December 7, 2006

Front Page

Town reworks moratorium

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

While short-term legislation regulating demolition of buildings 50 years old or older passed without opposition during Tuesday's town council session, legislation crafted to tackle commercial demolition and redevelopment issues for the long term faltered on first reading.

As approved unanimously by the Pagosa Springs Town Council, Ordinance 683 repeals the town's previous demolition moratorium - Ordinance 666 - and establishes new exemptions for those seeking to demolish buildings 50 years old and older.

Under the prior moratorium, demolition seekers had two options. First, if the structure was deemed not historically significant after a review by the town's historic preservation board, a demolition permit could be obtained. Second, in cases where historic significance was deemed a factor, the applicant could petition the town council to override the preservation board's recommendation, thus resulting in a finding of "no historic significance," and thereby allowing the property owner to obtain a demolition permit.

The new ordinance expands the scope of the previous moratorium in two key ways. In addition to allowing for exemptions based on findings of "no historic significance," the new ordinance allows for an exemption to the moratorium and demolition in cases where an applicant can demonstrate economic hardship, or that a building is structurally unsound.

The ordinance outlines criteria and documentation applicants must submit in order to make a compelling case for an exemption request.

With the newly-adopted moratorium set to expire April 1, 2007, the council is seeking ways to limit the proliferation of demolitions in non-residential zoning districts where the property is left vacant following demolition.

To that end, the council began exploring legislation in November that would require applicants seeking demolition or building relocation permits to submit a redevelopment plan concurrent with the demolition or relocation permit application.

A draft of the proposed ordinance was presented to the town council for discussion during a special session Nov. 15, 2006, and Town Planner Tamra Allen was directed to refine the document with town attorney Bob Cole.

After weeks of wordsmithing, a proposed ordinance was presented to the council for first reading Tuesday. But, after council review, and with Allen absent and unable to provide key supplementary information, the board moved to table the ordinance until late December.

Allen and Cole are the chief architects of the proposed legislation.

At issue, were council member Darrel Cotton's and Bill Whitbred's concerns that, as drafted, the ordinance was unnecessarily broad, overly complicated and in some cases excessive in its mandate.

"There is a lot of redundancy between this ordinance and the historic preservation ordinance," Cotton said. "We need to have some way to waive some of these requirements. It (the ordinance) needs some serious streamlining."

Following the meeting, Cotton said the ordinance forces applicants to, "jump through a lot of hoops that aren't relevant."

For example, the ordinance asks for an economic feasibility report that addresses costs associated with rehabilitation or re-use of the building proposed for demolition. Circumstances of historic significance aside, Cotton wonders why the town should impose an economic feasibility report when it is up to the property owner to determine the economic feasibility of demolition and redevelopment.

"If a guy wants to just tear it down, he has a right to tear it down," Cotton said.

To add to Cotton's concern, he said the proposed demolition-redevelopment ordinance incorporates language that belongs in the realm of historic preservation legislation, and that the overlap could ultimately prove problematic. He called for a clearer distinction between the two types of regulation.

During the discussion, it was unclear whether the proposed ordinance would apply to buildings 50 years old and older, or whether it would apply to all buildings, regardless of age, in non-residential districts.

Town Manager Mark Garcia said the proposed ordinance would apply to all buildings, regardless of age.

Council member Stan Holt said he supported an ordinance that prohibits demolition and long-term vacancies, but the board concurred that the discussion would be best conducted with Allen present.

The issue will go again before the board at a special meeting Dec. 28.

Council members Ross Aragon, Tony Simmons and John Middendorf also attended the meeting. Judy James was absent.


District picks hospital CEO

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

The Upper San Juan Health Service District Board of Directors has faced some difficult challenges in recent months, but few have been more arduous than selecting a chief executive officer for a new hospital in Pagosa Springs. Nevertheless, in its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, the board ultimately picked one of two highly qualified candidates for the job.

The ultimate decision came after a lengthy debate spanning nearly two hours in executive session - that after two-and-a-half hours of open discussion on topics such as finances, hospital construction and personnel matters. In the end, the district hiring committee recommended Ronald A. Ommen of Jackson, Wyo., for the CEO position.

Ommen is presently the Administrator and CEO at St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, and holds advanced degrees in business, hospital and health care administration, and has worked in the medical field since 1972.

The current St. John's facility, built in 1991 and renovated last year, has 108 total beds, with 48 in acute and primary care, and 60 in long-term care. The center offers a full range of medical services, including emergency, surgery, obstetrics, intensive care, home-based care, hospice, oncology, chemotherapy and radiology, respiratory care, rehabilitation and social services.

The process leading to Ommen's selection began with the board appointment of the four-person hiring committee. Those appointed included Bob Scott and Jim Pruitt, current members of the district board, J.R. Ford, member of the district's finance committee and chairman of the construction committee, and former Pagosa Springs town manager Jay Harrington. Harrington was included as an independent member with ample hiring experience.

The hiring committee received several applications in response to advertising, and ultimately examined 13 or 14 candidates, before trimming the list to nine. Further review cut the number to five, all of which were then subjected to on-line assessments. Due to specific compensation demands, three more eventually dropped out of the running, and the two finalists then submitted to a series of interviews and psychological evaluation.

During Tuesday's session, the board talked of each candidate's apparent strengths and weaknesses, and looked at how they related to district needs.

"It was a difficult decision," said board chair Neal Townsend. "We wanted to hire them both. But, Ron (Ommen) is currently a hospital CEO, and Tim (Bishop, of Estes Park, Colo.) is a CFO (chief financial officer)."

According to Townsend, Bishop was eager, and able, to move up to a CEO position, while Ommen expressed a strong interest in taking on a new hospital project from the ground up.

By Wednesday, the hiring committee was expected to contact Ommen with an offer for employment. Assuming he is still receptive to the idea, contract negotiations would begin immediately, and Townsend believes, "We'll know if things are looking OK by week's end (tomorrow)."

While contract details must still be worked out, Townsend explained that both Ommen and Bishop were made aware of the potential salary range, bonuses and insurance packages the district could offer, as each visited town for a public open house and further interviews last month.

Of course, with little else left to surprise, Ommen's move to Pagosa Springs must first meet the approval of his wife. If she agrees and negotiations go well, the district hopes to finalize the hiring process by Feb. 1, or sooner.

"That's negotiable," Townsend said, "but the full board will have to approve the final terms in a special meeting, or its regular January meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 9."


Report card in on local schools

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

The Colorado Department of Education released its School Accountability Reports (SAR) this week for the 2005-2006 school year. In it, all Archuleta County schools received average marks, except for the junior high school, which graded "high" for its overall academic performance on state assessments.

Overall academic performance measures the number of students that are shown to be proficient or advanced. Schools are ranked as excellent, high, average, low and unsatisfactory.

Based on Colorado Student Assessment Program tests (CSAP), 70 percent of junior high students were proficient or advanced in reading (four percentage points higher than the state average), 62 percent made the grade in writing (compared to 54 percent at the state level) and 42 percent were advanced or proficient in math (slightly lower than the state average of 45 percent).

The junior high also showed improvement in the academic growth of students, with seventh- and eighth-graders performing better in the 2005-2006 school year than they did the year before as sixth- and seventh-graders.

In regard to academic growth, schools were ranked with the classifications of significant improvement, improvement, stable, decline and significant decline.

The high school showed average academic performance, with a significant decline in academic growth when compared to the year before.

Juniors did slightly better than the state average on the ACT required by the state of all students. In the ACT subject area of reading, 11th graders nearly tied the state average, while they scored lower in writing.

Freshman and sophomores at the high school, who were required to take CSAP, surpassed the state average in reading by two percentage points, nearly tied the state average in writing and were six percentage points behind the state in math.

Though rated as average in academic performance, the intermediate school showed improvement in the academic growth of students, over last year's measures.

Fifth- and sixth-graders scored significantly higher on CSAP in reading than the state average, while scoring only a few percentage points lower than the state average in writing and math.

After showing significant decline in academic growth during the 2004-2005 school year, the elementary school improved in 2005-2006, showing less decline, with an average overall academic performance rating.

Third- and fourth-graders beat the state average in reading, but lagged three and six percentage points behind in writing and math, respectively.

The SAR, and the "high" rankings received by other districts, including Bayfield schools, underscore what the district knew already, that there is room for improvement.

Superintendent Duane Noggle said that challenges such as the significant decline in academic growth at the high school were disappointing, but they did not catch the district off guard, since it provides the state with the numbers that the SAR are based on.

Assistant Superintendent Bill Esterbrook, who is charged with curriculum and academic development, said that the district was aware of areas of concern long before the SAR were published and has put a "research-based," district-wide achievement plan in place to address the issues. 2006-2007 is the first school year with the plan in place, so it is too early to see the results of this effort in this year's SAR.

The new plan will ensure, at the district level, a guaranteed curriculum and smooth academic transition between grades levels, as well as facilitating cooperation between teachers in professional learning communities and through common assessments.

Last year, before the districtwide plan went into effect, Chris Hinger (principal at the junior high) implemented achievement policies similar to what the district now requires, said Noggle. Hinger and junior high teachers made and worked toward smart goals, which addressed measurable, specific targets. This helped the junior high move from showing significant decline in academic growth four years ago, by district measurements, to showing improvement this year.

Now, all of the schools are making smart goals, said Noggle.

"What we are doing right now is not reflected in last year's scores," said Esterbrook. "We are already holding ourselves accountable."

Esterbrook said the district was not satisfied with average rankings, but that the primary goal of Pagosa schools is to improve student growth every year.

According to Esterbrook, academic growth is a better measurement than overall academic performance, because it allows the district to measure the schools against themselves, from one year to another, rather than forcing the comparison with other districts.

But to make a comparison of growth, while two Pagosa schools improved and two declined, no Bayfield schools showed improvement (with two remaining stable and one declining) - showing a different picture than the comparison of overall academic performance in the two districts.

This is the second year of the academic growth component in the SAR, making it difficult to decipher a significant trend in the results - though trends will become more apparent as years pass.

The district hopes to create trends in the positive direction with its achievement plan; but, as Noggle pointed out, change will cause some tension, if it is to bring about growth.

Noggle outlined four stages to implementing change: 1) forming a new team, 2) storming (the tension), 3) norming (instituting standards) and 4) performing.

"We fully expect to reach that stage of performing this year," said Noggle, who anticipated that next year's SAR results will be better.

Though the district will focus on its achievement plan in order to increase student proficiency, it also recognizes the need to communicate with the community about the plan, in order to ensure its success.

According to Esterbrook, CSAP scores from last year, and thus the SAR, may have been impacted by parental opposition to the testing, which could have influenced how much effort students put into taking the tests - reflecting poorly on the school's proficiency and improvement levels.

Noggle said that one variant score could have a large impact when there are only about 100 students at a grade level.

Esterbrook has recognized the complexity of the standardized testing issue, and can understand where opponents are coming from, but he also encouraged anyone with questions or concerns about CSAP, or the district's achievement plan, to discuss them with administrators - so that they can understand and support Pagosa's schools beyond the numbers.

 Inside The Sun

Enjoy a performance of 'Las Posadas'

By Natalie Gabel

Special to The SUN

"Las Posadas" (The Inns) is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for a room in Bethlehem.

From Dec. 16 to Christmas Eve, Mexican children parade from house to house dressed as the holy parents of Jesus, accompanied by angels, and request a place to stay for the night. Bethlehem is overrun with travelers, so the innkeepers refuse until Mary is finally recognized as the mother of God and allowed to enter.

Pagosa's Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers are proud to perform "Las Posadas" for the Rotary Club today, and for residents of Pine Ridge Extended Care Center Monday, Dec. 18. Free public performances will take place at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, Dec, 8 at The Den senior center, and next Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Parish Hall following the Loaves and Fishes luncheon. Come to the Parish Hall to enjoy lunch, followed by a great holiday tradition!

The students have been studying Spanish since September with Blue Lindner, cofounder of Sonrisas Spanish School, as part of their Waldorf-inspired homeschool cooperative.

For more information on Waldorf education in Pagosa Springs, check out, Treasure Mountain Early Life Center's Web site.


County officials, staff attend CCI winter conference

By Colorado Counties, Inc.

Special to The SUN

Archuleta County Commissioners and numerous county staff attended the 99th annual Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) Winter Conference in Colorado Springs last week.

More than 330 County officials from 63 of the 64 counties in Colorado came from around the state Nov. 27-29 to help strengthen the voice of county government in the State of Colorado.

CCI members met with staff members of CCI and heard special addresses from state and national leaders. Attendees participated in professional workshops and educational seminars designed to enhance their own public service delivery skills. County officials also benefited from the opportunity to network with their colleagues from around the state to exchange ideas on how to best serve the public.

The workshops were carefully developed to cover issues vital to local government, including effects of the 2006 election on county government; Colorado's immigration conundrum; Colorado energy issues; economic development; health and human services issues; a collaborative approach to courthouse security; and CCI district specific issues. Included was a National Association of County Officials (NACo) briefing on the CCI delegation that will attend the NACo Legislative Conference in March 2007 to lobby for Colorado county issues in Washington, DC. Additionally, three Colorado county commissioners and one county administrator were honored for their outstanding public service.

This year's notable conference speakers included Colorado Governor-elect Bill Ritter, on how his transition plans to the governorship will occur. U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar covered his 2006 Regional Plans for counties throughout the State of Colorado.

Three other county associations meet jointly with CCI during its annual conference in order to save on travel costs and other expenses. Those three county associations are Colorado Association of Road Supervisors and Engineers (CARSE); Association of Colorado County Administrators (ACCA), which attend joint sessions with county officials; and Colorado Social Services Directors Association (CSSDA).

CARSE heard speakers discuss chip seal surface treatment; MSHA compliance for crushers and power stations; recycling concrete and asphalt for use in road surfacing; earth anchors; new equipment technology; traffic control sign retroreflectivity; and work zone safety.

CSSDA members had the opportunity to attend sessions on county contingency, administration funding and fiscal priorities and county works allocation formulas; replacement of CHATS discussion; medical help desk tickets; CBMS top ten priorities and CCYG status; finance, child welfare, and adult and aging services; Europe's lessons in health care and government; and health care policy and financing issues.

Once again, the CCI Conference offered county officials and staffers an opportunity for concentrated educational and networking opportunities. Archuleta County attendees returned home excited to apply concepts garnered from the experience.


Operation Helping Hand deadlines near, make your donations now

The deadlines for Operation Helping Hand are drawing near and many more donations are needed to ensure a Merry Christmas for 193 families, 641 people including 344 children, 59 seniors and 238 adults who have requested assistance for this holiday season.

Program organizers coordinate the charitable work of area civic clubs, churches, businesses, organizations and individuals. Since 1989 Pagosa Springs' civic organizations and church groups have united to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure as many holiday season needs and wishes as possible are accommodated.

Deadlines for contributing to the various components of the program range from tomorrow, Dec. 8, to Dec. 13. Organizers urge those supporting the program with donations to take note of the following deadlines.

Something Old, Something New

Program organizers have received numerous requests for used furniture, blankets, pots and pans, dishes, silverware and electric blankets. These items, which organizers say can be "used, but still usable," should be brought to one of the following drop off locations: Coldwell Banker - The Pagosa Group, located on Put Hill, Jann Pitcher Real Estate, located on Put Hill, Bank of the San Juans on Hot Springs Boulevard, Allstate Insurance on Talisman Drive or the Movie Gallery in the Country Center Shopping Center by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Toy Outreach

This branch of Operation Helping Hand provides an opportunity for children to get involved in the program.

Parents may help their children select for donation a toy or toys they no longer use, but which are still in good condition. Used bikes, PlayStations, stereos and CD players are especially high on the wish lists of many young people. These items should be brought to one of the above drop off locations by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Project Empty Stocking

Volunteers have posted over 1600 requested items on paper stockings at both City Market locations. These requests range from socks and underwear to snow boots, pants and coats. To fill one of these requests, remove a stocking from the board in City Market, then purchase and wrap your gift, attaching the stocking to your package so the gift will be delivered to the correct individual or family. Take your gift to one of the above drop off locations by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

The Library "Giving Tree"

Give a child a world of possibilities this Christmas give them a book! Please sponsor an ornament on the "Giving Tree" located in the lobby of the Ruby Sisson Memorial Library until Dec. 13. Each ornament represents a disadvantaged child here in Archuleta County. Your donation of a book or cash gift towards a book will be combined with Christmas packages put together by Operation Helping Hand. For more information, ring the Sisson Library at 264-2208

Secret Santa Toy Tree

This program seeks to provide at least one new toy to each child in need this holiday season. Toy requests are posted on a special tree located at the chamber of commerce on Hot Springs Boulevard. To fill one of these requests, remove a request from the tree, then purchase and wrap your gift, attaching the stocking to your package so the gift will be delivered to the correct individual or family. Take your gift to one of the above drop off locations by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Bucks for Bikes

Each year, the Pagosa Springs Area Association of Realtors raises donations to purchase new bikes for children through their Bucks for Bikes program.

Eligible children must qualify through the Helping Hands program. Last year the community raised enough money to purchase 32 new bikes for children between the ages of 5 and 16. This year the goal is to raise $3,000 for this project.

Businesses and individuals are invited to contribute to the program before December 8. Donations can be mailed to Barb Walton or West Davies at: Bucks for Bikes, c/o Jim Smith Realty, PO Box 1680, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147 or drop your donation off at Jim Smith Realty downtown office or Jim Smith Realty midtown office. Make checks payable to "Bucks for Bikes." Contact Barb at 903-9546 or West at 398-0022 for more information.

Snowflake Program

Volunteers at Community United Methodist Church are participating by assisting families with their holiday needs in cooperation with Operation Helping Hand.

Christmas food boxes

Food donations are always needed for Christmas dinners. It is the goal of Operation Helping Hand volunteers to provide the ingredients for a holiday dinner to those who otherwise would go without this holiday season. Nonperishable items may be brought to one of the above drop off locations by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

You can also help by purchasing a City Market gift certificate and bringing it to the Pagosa Springs SUN or mailing it to Operation Helping Hand, P.O. Box 1083, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. These certificates will be used to purchase turkeys and other perishable items.

Questions about Operation Helping Hand may be directed to the message line, 731-3735. A volunteer will return your call, if necessary.

Monetary donations can be made to Operation Helping Hand and deposited to account no. 6240417424 at Wells Fargo Bank or account no. 20014379 at Bank of the San Juans. Donations may also be mailed to Operation Helping Hand, P.O. Box 1083, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

Christmas Spirit

Operation Helping Hand organizers extend their thanks to the people who continue to show, year after year, that the Christmas spirit is alive in our community through their generous donations to assist those less fortunate among us.


County reaches agreement for airport snow removal

SUN Staff

Following Tuesday's board of county commissioner approval, Stevens Field airport management has secured a snow removal contract for the 2006-2007 winter season.

The $42,000 agreement forged between Archuleta County and Hart Construction entitles the airport to 10 snow removal service calls - "events" is the contractual jargon - with additional calls, beyond the 10, costing the county $4,000 per call.

"We usually wait until there's three inches, but each additional event could cost us about four-thousand dollars," Stevens Field Manager George Barter said.

After conducting a cost analysis and assessing staffing shortfalls, Barter said it proved cheaper to contract the work out than to hire additional staff necessary.

Barter said he needed at least four, but ideally six operators to remove snow at the airport - staff he does not currently have.

With board of county commissioner approval, the contract marks a change in tack from last year's plan to hire additional road and bridge operators whose primary charge would be airport snow removal using the county's own equipment. To that end, former airport manager Rob Russ purchased surplus snow removal equipment at auction in October 2005 from Denver International Airport at a total cost of $66,000 - $44,000 from the county coffers and $22,000 from a Colorado Department of Transportation grant. Russ purchased the equipment without the commissioners' authorization.

Barter said the equipment is "old and requires a lot of maintenance," but will play a vital role in keeping contractual costs down this winter.

As part of the contract, Barter said, Hart Construction will use the county equipment, at a savings of about $265 per hour. Barter said if Hart uses its own equipment to conduct snow removal, hourly equipment rates will be charged to the county.

"A good snow event can take about 10 to 12 hours," Barter said.

Barter said beyond plowing the facility's new 8,100-foot runway, there are ramps, taxiways, aprons and hangar areas in need of attention as well.

The contract will terminate May 30, 2007.

Meanwhile, inclement weather has delayed the completion of one project, while electrical problems have plagued another.

In the past month, crews have worked to install an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) near the north ramp, adjacent to the new Fixed Base Operations (FBO) building at midfield. Installation, originally scheduled for the final week of October, was to take about a week, but two recent snow storms delayed progress, but Barter said the AWOS crew is back on track.

"The AWOS crew is here and all outside construction is complete," Barter said.

Next, Barter said, the crew will complete indoor work installing the operating system, including computer terminals and cables for the antennae.

"The system will be technically finished this week, but it still has to be commissioned by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)," Barter said.

Barter said commissioning could occur almost anytime after he notifies the FAA that installation is complete.

When finally operational, the AWOS system will help meteorologists, pilots and flight dispatchers prepare and monitor weather forecasts, plan flight routes, and provide necessary information for correct takeoffs and landings. The system will provide continuous data on conditions at the runway touchdown level.

AWOS units provide a minute-to-minute update to pilots by VHF radio or non-directional beacon, and every hour, AWOS data is available to off-site users by means of long-line telephone communication or satellite uplink.

In another matter, ongoing problems with the north Precision Approach Positioning Indicator (PAPI) have resulted in their temporary removal for off-site repairs.

A PAPI is located at each end of the runway, and utilizes a series of automated lights to inform pilots of their altitude and angle of descent. While a 3-percent glide path is considered a suitable approach, all white lights indicate too high a level. All red means too low, with white over red meaning adequate.

Apparently, the north PAPI was pre-programmed to the wrong frequency during assembly, while internal electrical malfunctions have also prevented suitable operation. Though the original manufacturer must correct both conditions, the instrument is still under warranty and repairs will not cost taxpayers.

Barter said a second PAPI component was also sent back to the manufacturer for repair.

Barter was uncertain how long repairs for either part might take.

And lastly, at the last Archuleta County Airport Advisory Committee meeting, Barter announced that the Pagosa Fire Protection District had finally issued a permanent Certificate of Occupancy for the new FBO building at midfield.

Since facility construction was largely completed last spring, Avjet Corporation, the FBO operator, has occupied it under a temporary certificate. Difficulties with the design and implementation of an adequate water system pumping station caused the delay in the fire district's submission of a final document. At issue was a system that would provide sufficient water pressure, according to Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District standards and requirements.


Deep roots in Archuleta County, a special day at The Den

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

How does a community recognize its heritage and honor those with deep ties to the area?

You invite them over for lunch and listen to their stories.

Or at least that's what you do if you are Musetta Wollenweber and Jeni Wiskofske of Archuleta County Senior Services, who together, Nov. 30, hosted the inaugural, Archuleta Roots Day, a celebration honoring area seniors with deep ties to Archuleta County.

Wollenweber, director of the Silver Foxes Den Senior Center, said the idea struck her while she was brainstorming ways to reach out to the most long-standing residents of the county.

"It hit me driving home one day and I called Jeni. I said 'Hey, what do you think of the idea of doing a heritage day?'" Wollenweber said.

Wiskofske serves as the center's program coordinator.

Wiskofske was enthusiastic, and together they created Archuleta Roots Day, "A day to honor those who have deep roots in Archuleta County."

Wollenweber said, with such rapid change in the community, she felt the celebration was long overdue.

"The community has changed so much over the years and we need to remember those that have been here through generations," Wollenweber said.

And remember they did.

As the group of 38 dined in the Silver Foxes Den lunch room, they shared stories about Archuleta County past and present. Speaking largely in Spanish and all bearing name tags - most with Spanish surnames - they boasted impressive tenures in the county, most with roots dating back 60 to 86 years.

Margie Martinez (71 years in the county) talked of her life on the Lower Blanco, the small school she attended there, and her marriage, beginning at age 14, that lasted a happy 49 years.

Ben Gallegos (82 years in the county) spoke of his life as a Chevrolet mechanic and of working on county road crews; while Chris Chavez (69 years in the county) traced his family's journey from 17th century Spain to the San Luis Valley and eventually to Pagosa Junction where Chavez resides today.

As Wollenweber observed the group interacting she smiled and said, "They all know each other. A lot of stories are coming out. They have shared histories and shared relations."

And some stories were just plain funny.

During the awards portion of the event, Gallegos received a gift from Wollenweber acknowledging him as one of six individuals present with the longest tenure in Archuleta County. Gallegos' gift was a trivet with the etching of a horse, and he said it was perfect, in light of one of his earliest equine memories.

"I was three when I first fell off a horse. It took me 15 minutes to get on and seconds to fall off," Gallegos said.

And although Gallegos' tales of snowfall, early transportation methods and weather patterns, were often humorous, they were also poignant and revealed much about how the area has changed.

"At one time, I used to know everyone in Archuleta County, man, woman and child, if they had a car," Gallegos said.

But things are much different these days.

With unprecedented growth rates, thousands of seasonal residents and a steady influx of full-time transplants from cities across the nation, the group represented a unique, and arguably dwindling population segment. And Wollenweber acknowledged such as she addressed the group.

"You are very special people, you are the roots of Archuleta County," Wollenweber said.


New directory lists local meat producers

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has developed the Colorado Meat Directory to help consumers locate locally produced meats. The publication is now available in print and online.

"Small producers were looking for a way to market their meat and they turned to us for assistance," said Wendy White, marketing specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "Not only does the guide help producers, but it also helps the public find local meats for the holidays and throughout the year."

The inaugural edition of the Colorado Meat Directory lists 74 meat producers that direct market their meat. The directory also includes meat-related services such as processors.

Listings are grouped by region of the state and describe the type of meat available, how it is packaged and how it can be purchased. Many products can be purchased online and several producers offer natural and organic products.

For more information call (303) 239-4115 or visit the directory online at


Consider the child care tax credit

By Charlotte T. Pirnat

Special to The SUN

Are you looking for a tax credit that will also benefit your community directly?

If you file Colorado taxes, the 50-percent Child Care Contribution Credit may be just what you're looking for. Most child care programs engage in some form of fund-raising to supplement the basic funding from tuition, fees or governmental subsidies. The cost of operating a child care program or preschool continues to escalate along with the general cost of living.

Colorado taxpayers have an opportunity to contribute to child care programs and take advantage of a 50-percent tax credit.

Some of the eligible purposes for donation include: establishment or operation of a child care facility or program; to establish a grant or loan program for parents' financial assistance for child care; training of child care providers; to establish a program to disseminate information to assist parents in obtaining child care.

There are some limitations on the credit allowed by the state of Colorado. The tax credit cannot exceed $100,000 per year. Also, the tax credit cannot exceed the taxpayer's liability for the year. Therefore, this credit does not allow the donor to generate a tax refund.

It is important to be aware of contributions that will not qualify for this credit. The tax credit is not allowable if the taxpayer or a person related to the taxpayer has a financial interest in the child care program. It will not be allowable if the contribution is part of a pledge agreement for an Enterprise Zone. If the donor receives a consideration from the organization in exchange for the contribution it will not be allowable as a tax credit; this exchange would constitute a purchase rather than a donation.

Contributions to a nonprofit child care business must be used for specific activities. The donor should be clear on what is allowable, and the child care business must be specific in acknowledging the donation.

Any allowable contribution for the 50-percent child care credit must be supported by a signed statement from the child care center to the donor. The documentation must include the amount of the cash contribution and the eligible purpose for which the contribution will be used. If the contribution is made to a larger organization which operates child care or preschool, the amount of the contribution for the child care credit must be stated specifically.

You may be wondering if your child care business qualifies under this program or if the program to which you take your child or grandchild qualifies. Child care does not qualify if it is primarily for sports participation, entertainment, job training, drug or alcohol treatment, mental health care, health care or education. However, those elements may be included. The child care must have as its primary purpose assuring the child's well-being and protection while parents/guardians go to work, look for work or attend school.

Some of the terms used to identify the allowable child care facility may include programs known as child care facilities, school-age child care programs, before- and after-school programs, nursery schools, preschools, Head Start programs, day camps, summer camps and child care facilities operating in conjunction with public, private and parochial colleges.

If you are interested in making a contribution that will qualify for the tax credit, ask the child care program you are considering if they qualify and if they will document the contribution for inclusion with your Colorado tax form. If the program is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, your contribution may also qualify as a federal tax deductible contribution.

This tax credit program extends to Dec. 31, 2009. It is always advisable to consult your tax advisor prior to making decisions that will effect your taxes.

Additional information regarding the 50-percent Colorado Child Care Contribution Credit is available at The Web site is the source of the information for this article.


Poster contest winners announced

By Cynthia Purcell

Special to The SUN

The San Juan Conservation District hosted its annual poster contest for sixth-grade students in Pagosa Springs.

This year's theme was "Water Wise."

Students created a poster depicting between one and three conservation practices. The district supervisors judged the posters and awarded cash prizes to the top five entries. Additionally, each student who participated in the contest received a temperature key tag.

The top three winners were sent on to the state competition at the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting in Glenwood Springs In November. Pagosa's Jonah Sanchez placed in the top 10 at the state competition.

John Taylor, district vice president, presented the awards to the students during an assembly.

Congratulations go to Kitman Gill, first place, $30; Jonah Sanchez, second place, $25 (local), top 10 at state level, $25; Dean Hampton, third place, $20; Hannah Matzdorf, fourth place, $15; Jared Bachtel, fifth place, $10.


Consider wildlife when decorating for the holidays

Everyone enjoys seeing brightly lit, festively decorated homes of the holiday season. Most of us would never guess that these decorations can be a serious hazard to wildlife, especially deer and elk.

Each year, wildlife officers are called about problems with animals caught in wired lights or decorations stuck on animals' horns, antlers or legs. Most of these incidents can be prevented by following a few simple tips on where and how to use decorations.

- Wait to put up outdoor lights on posts, shrubs or small trees until after the peak of the deer rut, sometime after the first week of December.

- Trees with trunk diameters of two to six inches are most likely to be rubbed by bucks which entangle lights in their antlers - only string lights on larger diameter trees.

- Use multiple short strands of wire plugged together versus one long strand so that if animals become entangled they will have less wire to deal with.

- Avoid stringing lights "clothesline" style across areas - firmly attach lights to tree limbs, gutters, or fence posts.

- Place some flagging along the wired decorations so that deer can see where the wire is and avoid entanglement.

These ideas can also apply to general yard planning year-round. Wildlife can also benefit from:

- Removing volleyball nets from their posts during the winter - don't wrap nets around the post, as animals may still be enticed to rub their antlers on it and get caught.

- Disconnecting and storing water hoses, tomato cages and other gardening materials (netting, stakes, ties, etc.) until spring.

- Taking down and storing hammocks and swings when not in use.

- Flagging or removing empty clotheslines until they are needed.

- Fencing yards with animals in mind, as illustrated at:

One of the greatest hazards to an entangled animal can be a well-meaning citizen who comes too close. The Division of Wildlife (DOW) cautions people not to approach or try to help an entangled animal. Greater injury to the animal or injury to the person may result. Precaution is the preferred tool to problem-solving.

Capturing and handling animals can be very stressful to them and can result in fatalities. Because of this, the DOW generally does not remove objects from animals unless the object is impeding the animal's travel (legs lashed together), has completely blocked the animal's vision, or is around the animal's jaw, neck or chest where constriction will affect survival. However, animals which have become attached to each other because of manmade materials do need DOW's assistance, as this kind of entanglement can result in death. In the case of deer and elk with wire or other non-life threatening materials on the antlers, the problem usually comes off each year when antlers are shed.


SJMA revamps classroom program

The San Juan Mountains Association (SJMA) is pleased to announce a revamped classroom presentations program.

These fun, hands-on programs can supplement science lessons, or provide additional opportunities for students to practice reading and writing in a variety of ways.

There is no charge for these presentations and all programs are correlated to state standards. The target age group is kindergarten through fifth grade, and programs typically last 30-45 minutes. Program themes include:

- Tree-mendous Trees;

- Fire in the Forest;

- Walk the Walk in the Outdoors;

- Pumas on Parade.

These lessons provide information and interactive activities on forest ecology, flora and fauna of the San Juan Mountains, and "Leave No Trace" principles.

The San Juan Mountains Association, in partnership with the San Juan Public Lands Center, promotes responsible care of natural and cultural resources through education and hands-on involvement that inspires respect and reverence for our lands.

For more information on this local nonprofit organization, please visit our Web site

The San Juan Mountains Association also offers field trip programs to public lands sites, professional development opportunities, and a monthly conservation education e-newsletter.

Find out more by contacting Gabi Morey; send an e-mail to or call 385-1256.


Wildlife commissioners to meet public in Bayfield

Two members of the Colorado Wildlife Commission will hold a public meeting in Bayfield, 6-8 p.m., Dec. 12.

The commissioners will discuss local and state wildlife issues, and also want to learn about wildlife concerns of residents of southwest Colorado.

Attending the meeting will be Dick Ray, a commissioner from Pagosa Springs, and Robert Bray, a commissioner from the Montrose area. DOW staff members will also attend.

The commission is a volunteer board that sets regulations and policies for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. There are nine wildlife commissioners who represent five different districts in Colorado. They are appointed from each of the following groups: livestock producers; agricultural or produce growers; sportsmen or outfitters; wildlife organizations; and boards of county commissioners. The remaining three commissioners are appointed from the public at large.

The meeting will be held at the Lion's Club Building, southwest corner of Church and North streets in the old town area off Business U.S. 160.


DOW seeks info about hatchery break-in

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is seeking information about a break-in that occurred Nov. 23 - Thanksgiving Day - at the Native Aquatic Species Restoration Facility west of Alamosa.

DOW officials said that someone entered the facility and removed some fish species from tanks and raceways. Two of the fish species - the Colorado Pikeminnow and the Bonytail Chub - are listed as endangered by the United State Fish and Wildlife Service. Fines for harming those species can be $10,000 or more per fish.

The facility is working to restore 11 species of warm-water fish and the boreal toad that are all native to Colorado.

Facility staffers are attempting to determine how many fish were removed.

Anyone who has information about this incident are asked to call Operation Game Thief at (877) 265-6648; the Monte Vista DOW office at (719) 587-6900; or the Alamosa County Sheriff's Office at (719) 589-6608.


 Catch and Release

Memories of rivers, memorializing a friend

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

Veterans Day.

I'm driving around town looking for something to photograph.

As I roll into Pagosa from the east, my first stop is Reservoir Hill and I walk up, enjoying a sunny, relatively warm, November morning. I see no one on the trip up or down and no one on top, and I return to my truck picture-less. It's still early yet and I begin to drive aimlessly - or so I think.

After a convoluted route through south Pagosa and then back across Pagosa Street, I begin winding my way up Cemetery Road and find myself stopped in front of the Hilltop Cemetery entrance. I drive in. As though drawn by some invisible force, I find myself piloting the truck directly to the gravesite of a former colleague. I've only been to the cemetery once before - the day we buried him - but I know exactly where the spot is.

It's Veterans Day, and I feel the need to pay my respects to those who have served, and because my relatives have been cremated or are buried in cemeteries far away, it seems natural to visit him, as both a veteran and a former colleague. When I arrive, I park my truck in the exact location I parked during his funeral last fall, and when I exit and walk to the grave, I follow the same route over uneven terrain. The repetition is surreal.

When I arrive graveside, my heart sinks. There is no marker nor headstone, just an otherwise nondescript piece of thin, white plastic pipe jutting out six inches above the ground. It is marked near the top with three narrow stripes - one red, one white and one blue. Its diameter is similar to that of a pencil, enough to hold the mast of a small flag or the stems of a few flowers. And when I scan the grave itself, I am frustrated and angered because I have neither. On the ground, in the perfect outline of a casket, runs a long, black jagged scar where the soil has broken and then sunk in. The scar frames an obvious depression where the soil has significantly settled, and although the casket is not exposed, it's clear there is someone buried in this spot. If I hadn't been at the funeral more than a year ago, I would not know who that someone is. I shake my head. I think the man resting here deserves more.

I go back to my truck and rummage around inside the toolbox I have stashed in the bed. I rifle through the cab. I have nothing to make an impromptu plaque, or makeshift headstone. I'm discouraged, and I begin wandering on foot through the cemetery. As my feet tap out a slow steady rhythm, my mind wanders back to late June of 2005. At that time, I'd been in Pagosa Springs barely a month, and by the look of things, I had moved to a flyfisherman's paradise - if the water would just come down. That year, after a good winter snowpack followed by a wet spring, the San Juan was running high and even the high-country streams were still blown out, and I was lamenting my ill fortune aloud in the office. And that's when he told me his first, and only, fishing tale.

Leaning slowly back in his chair, he folded his hands, placed them behind his head and stared silently up at the fiberboard panels of the ceiling. His eyes bored through them, like two diamond drill bits, and it seemed his gaze was taking him someplace far away. After a moment's more silence, he began to speak. He spoke of a time long ago, a time before the dam on Williams Creek. His story took me by rickety old car, up Piedra Road, winding past the deep cleft of the Piedra River Canyon, over the Piedra River and eventually to the high valley where Williams Creek Reservoir now lies. He said in the days before the reservoir, there were three jewel-like streams that tumbled down out of the high country, then moved through the valley in undulating oxbows, ultimately converging at the far end to form Williams Creek. He spoke of jade green meadows, aspen groves, beaver ponds and afternoons filled with youthful adventure and wild trout. He said after the dam came, it was difficult to return. The land had been irrevocably altered, domesticated, and terminally corrupted. What was once wild was not any more. He shifted his gaze from the ceiling and stared blankly across the room. He had told the story, but in the telling there was grief, like someone lost in bittersweet memory after the passing of a dear friend.

I went to the lake soon after the telling of the tale, and as I walked along the shore with Cimarrona Peak towering in the distance, I tried to imagine the place as he had described it. It wasn't difficult, and I felt as though I'd been given a fantastic gift - an image in my mind of three streams running free through a beautiful, high-country valley - but also as though I'd been cheated. I knew of the valley as it once was, but would never be able to fish the place as he had done in his youth - sometimes ignorance is bliss. But unlike him, I went back. I went back often, and each time I paused and imagined the valley in another time and as another place.

My wander takes me full circle, and back at the truck, I wrack my brain one last time. I have nothing, but I return to his grave and bid farewell.

Dec. 2, 2006. Nearly a month has passed, and the image of the neglected gravesite has burrowed itself deep into my mind. It has become lost and forgotten like a sliver, but now, also like a sliver, it has decided to burrow its way back out, to make its presence known. It is a Saturday again, I'm searching Pagosa for something to photograph, and my journey takes me to the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, a nearby café, and streamside for a conversation with a fisherman. An Arctic front has moved into the region and the fisherman stands over the main channel of the river supported by a thick ice shelf. He is casting a Muddler Minnow tied on a heavy sinking line. With the sun down the temperature plummets and my fingers are immobile, the frozen digits wrapped rigidly around the camera body. Soon, we finish our conversation, and as the moon rises, I realize I have an unfinished errand. I head back to the truck and jump in.

I turn onto Hot Springs Boulevard, cross Pagosa Street, then Lewis Street, then follow the dogleg up and over the hill. I pass Archuleta Housing and soon thereafter veer left and begin up Cemetery Road. As I drive, I cross stretches of pavement cloaked in thick sheets of ice. My truck fishtails just like it did that day in the funeral procession. The repetition is surreal. When I arrive at the cemetery, I shift into four-wheel drive and crawl along its narrow tracks back to his grave. I am determined. I don't have much, but I will use what I have to make a marker.

When I arrive at his graveside, the twilight is almost gone, but light from a glowing gibbous moon reflects generously on the snow. Although covered in powdery white, the scene is largely the same. The snow has followed the contour of the sunken ground, and although the jagged scar is obscured, the depression leaves no mystery as to the cause of its origin. I look for a grave marker or headstone, and still there is nothing. From my coat, I pull out a long spiral reporter's notebook - the kind he used to carry religiously in his back pocket - and on the cardboard cover, in heavy, black, block letters, I write his name. I then open the notebook, and on the first page I write, "Here lies ..." And I realize I am unprepared for my task. I don't know when he was born and I can't remember the date of his death. I settle for a question mark on the first entry, and for the second I write, "Fall 2005." For his epitaph, I write, "A newsman until the end."

With the makeshift headstone complete, I take my pocketknife and trim a narrow strip from the cardboard back of the notepad, leaving it attached by about an inch of cardboard to the spiral wire running along on the top. I then shove the strip down into the white plastic pipe, and the strip, supported by the pipe, holds the notepad erect like the leg of a desktop picture frame. I then push the black ballpoint pen, which is identical to three or four he usually carried in his shirt pocket, inside the spiral wire. By the time I finish the task, the moon is high.

As I drive out of the cemetery, I realize the notepad will be a soggy mess by springtime, but I think the waxy cardboard cover and the ballpoint ink will survive the journey and should do the trick until something better arrives.

I am told a headstone is due any time now from the Veteran's Administration, and I hope so. Because as I motor down Cemetery Road toward home, I can't help thinking that he deserves better.




Dear Editor:

I was driving down the road, listening to talk radio on the subject of the Iraq Study Group, when I glanced over at my fractured windshield. If I had repaired the rock break when it happened, the cracks wouldn't have spread. As it is now, the right side of my windshield has factured into three factions and never the twain shall meet. The only solution is replacing the windshield with a new one, or just putting up with the cracks that have little effect upon my whole visibility and not against the law. At a cost of $350 to replace the windshield, I decided to live with it, for the cure is worse than the disease.

Ron Alexander


The answers

Dear Editor:

Maj. General Smedley D. Butler (Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1933): "There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket."

Why did we really go into Iraq: A report for senior GWB administration, "Delta of Terrorism," by DeMuth focused GWB on the "malignancy of the Mid-East." The thesis of the report was that Iraq would be the stepping stone to defeat our "age-old foes," spread democracy and gain a major "oil chip" for bargaining with oil countries.

GWB's administration minions were much more real politic as Iraq was the weaker of available targets and could serve as a lesson to other Muslim countries. Or as Kissinger put it, "Afghanistan was not enough ... and we need to humiliate them."

How did Iraq get to be such a mess: Lack of leadership, turf fights and no planning. GWB offered a failed Wilsonian ideology of freedom without means, had no understanding of the area's flash points or how democracy takes root in a country, then delegated management; Rumsfeld wanted a second war to demonstrate his lighter-faster-smaller armed forces ; Rice became a shill for GWB and Powell failed as a state advisor and internal broker of GWB's turf wars.

Who are we fighting and who's funding it: A mixed bag at best, but the international terrorist threat is the least of the problems. In addition to the individual tribal and clan groups seeking regional power/revenge we have the larger conflict of the Kurds and Sunni/Shiite sectarian civil war with their multiple militias.

Funds come into the war from other countries, as well as wealthy private Arab individuals and there is the latest U.S. government finding, "The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent."

What to do: Zinni, former USMC commandant, says we can't get out now as it will lead to a worse disaster. Current options range from "go big," "go long" to "get out."

Direct talks with Syria and Iran could yield stabilization of Lebanon; cut off arms/reinforcements to the insurgents as well as reduce the oil black market. Iran can assist with Lebanon and pressure the Shiite militias to accept authority from a central Iraq government. The irony is that GWB used WMD as an excuse to invade Iraq and now the price Iran will likely demand is to be a nuclear power. Keep in mind Iran has to choose between giving up oil money and joining the modern civil world by helping their enemy, U.S., out of this torture pit. Syria's price would likely to be the Golan Heights and the freedom in the Bekaa Valley to grow opium. The other key is for the U.S. is to persuade the EU to accept Turkey. Forming three states out of Iraq, however factitious, does provide a successful way out.

GWB wants to "succeed" without definition, McCain wants more troops to then pull out or to get-out-now. The Baker-Hamilton Commission is likely to recommend some form of withdrawal and direct communication with Iran and Syria, the Democrats are changing thumbs and the Republicans are truly lost as their old tapes were trashed by our last election.

The qualifications for a Presidential candidate in 2008 should exclude anyone who has all these characteristics: inexperienced, wealthy by birth, educated by virtue of family influence, headstrong to continual fault, believes God wants him to be President and is without any international/cultural/political skill sets. Further, any future police action or congressional authorization for hostility/war should automatically require a national draft.

Dave Blake


Property rites

Dear Editor:

Fellow Pagosians,

I jist caint believe the bad luck and it came to me via The Pagosa SUN. Front page several weeks back and it's the fault of those damnable virormentalists. Its that Ronie, whatever his last name is, and his Durango group. They jist keep pekking away at my minter, Mr. Red McCombs and his Village at Wolf Creek. They went to one of those liberal judges and got an enjunction against Red and shut him down for a the winter. And this after all that Pak money Red spent.

But you know and I know this issue is "property rites" plane and semple. And I know the good people of Archalita County will see through it and come to our aid. First, to support Red to develop his property at Wolf Creek any way he sees fit, and second, to support me and my "Pigs is Butiful" ranch that I aim to put rite next door to Mr. McComb's Village. Reds inviting 10,000 people to his place, and I'm hallin my 10,000 Pigs up there from my ranch near Allison.

I'm in the process of trading my 80 acre ranch for 160 national forest acres next to Mr. McCombs. And to think I got the idear from him.

Some limited visson people say its virormentally bad. I say to that "pig poop." Little do those people know about pig farming and the way money works its way up the ladder to the rite people in our gov't. Little do those people know that rite now my plans are being drawn up for as astrodome like struckture that will house my 10,000 butiful pigs who will flourish at 10,000 feet elevation.

The round struckturae will have American flags spaced every fifty feet around it and huge lites on every flag. And my dream ranch will be the talk of all Colorado.

So, people of Archalita county do not let them lousy virormentalist from La Plata county and a few liberal judges take away Mr. McCombs and my rites to develop our property "the American way."

P.S. Forgive me for the few misspelled words. You'll get the idea.

Yours truly,

P. Lerno III



Dear Editor:

As I read through last week's peace sign letters, I was struck by the vengeful and angry tone of many of those who wrote in support of a symbol of peace. Ironic, isn't it?

John Neill


United Way event

Dear Editor:

If you are a lover of piano music, you missed a fabulous performance by our own Rada, who performed for the first United Way event. From the moment she hit the first key to the last, with a standing ovation, the evening was such a delight.

Bravo Rada,

Mark and Ella Olson


   Community News

Pagosa Children's Chorale holiday concert Friday

By Michelle Oliver

Special to The PREVIEW

The Pagosa Children's Chorale performed last week in the lobby at the high school prior to each performance of the Music Boosters' "Nuncrackers".

Now, the Children's Chorale invites you to celebrate the holidays by attending a concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Community United Methodist Church. Please join us for this stellar performance. This is community choir at its best!

Now in its fourth year, the Chorale is directed by Sue Anderson who, after a 20-plus-year teaching career (six years at Pagosa Springs' middle and intermediate schools), continues to bring the blessing of music to the community through her choral work and her musical direction with the Music Boosters.

In 2005, singers were assigned to one of two choirs based on their ability to read music and vocal maturity. The introductory choir, Bel Canto, is open to all beginning singers, while the Dolce Cantare is an auditioned choir. Choir members range in age from 7 to 17 and are also combined for activities and performances.

Watch The SUN for registration dates for the Chorale's spring 2007 season. Pagosa Springs Children's Chorale "exists to inspire in children a lifelong love of singing through distinctive musical performance for our parents, our peers and our community."


Festival of Trees Friday night

By Mercy Korsgren

Special to The PREVIEW

The Festival of Trees is tomorrow night at the community center.

Who are going to be the lucky buyers of the trees?

We are so excited: the plans and preparations sound wonderful, and by the time you read this, the multi-purpose room has been transformed into a holiday wonderland for the party and auction night.

Michelle Jamison has worked many hours to create giant decorations to make the room festive. Robin Nay and Paula Bain, our local artists, helped finish the ornaments that will hang from the roof trusses.

This event will delight Pagosa Springs residents with 10 beautifully-decorated holiday trees, all under one roof. Come to the center, listen to holiday music by John Graves, munch on specialty food from Wildflower Catering and enjoy the evening with family and friends.

Tomorrow night, Dec. 8, from 6-9 p.m. is the Festival of Trees party and auction. Admission for the evening is $15 per person, and includes hors d' oeuvres, dessert and hot beverages. We also intend to have a cash bar with beer and wine.

Imagine the fun and excitement — bidding on a tree with the help of auctioneer Bill Nobles, purchasing the best holiday tree in town to benefit a non-profit organization. Prior to the party, judges will vote on first-, second- and third-prize winners and one tree will get the Judges' Special Award. Admission tickets for the party and auction are available at the Chamber of Commerce, Goodman's and the community center. Remember, we are counting on you to help make this holiday event a success.

Trees will be auctioned off and the lucky buyer of each tree can take the tree home, donate it to a family or display it at a business. If you can't attend, designate someone to purchase a tree; just give that person an idea of what you're willing to spend for a great cause. Again, all proceeds from the auction of the trees will benefit non-profit organizations in our community. Delivery of trees to the final destination may be available.

The following are the tree sponsors/decorators and beneficiaries of the auction proceeds: Stan and Lorrie Church (Archuleta County Seniors Inc.), Mountain High Garden Club (undecided), Mercy Home Health and Hospice, Century 21 & Humane Society (American Red Cross), Loaves and Fishes, Kiwanis Club (Pagosa Pregnancy Center), Pagosa Women's Club (undecided), Porpoise Swim Team, Special Olympics and Home Again (The Edge, Catholic youth group). Most of the sponsors intend to keep the proceeds from the auction for their non-profit organizations.

Your last chances to see the trees free of charge are today and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you have questions call me at 264-4152, Nancy Strait at 731-3427, or Janis Moomaw at 264-3010.


Holiday concert tonight

The Pagosa Springs high school music department will hold its holiday concert tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

The jazz band, concert band and choir will perform - and many pieces will combine the talents of bands and choir in one ensemble.

Lisa Hartley, who directs both bands and the choir, said it will be a "festive, fun-filled evening" and hopes everyone in the community will consider attending.

It will be a good way to kick off the Christmas season.


'Hold It!' opens at Shy Rabbit with Dec. 9 artists' reception

By Denise Coffee

Special to The PREVIEW

"Hold It!," an exhibition of contemporary containers, opens at Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts with an artists' reception from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9.

The exhibition features seven artists from throughout the country, working in different mediums, and runs through Jan. 20.

"Hold It!" stretches the generally-held perception of what a container might be considered, and entertains the viewer's imagination with a wide range of materials and forms.

Several of the artists invited to participate in "Hold it!" had existing works that fit the show theme. Others created new work inspired by the show title and the freedom they were allowed in the process.

The seven featured artists are: Chad Haspels, Colo., wood; Sarah Hewitt, N.M., fiber; Clarissa Hudson, Colo., fiber; Terry Inokuma, Ore., ceramics; Mary Ellen Long, Colo., mixed media; Chris Richter, N.M., ceramics; and Shan Wells, Colo., mixed media.

In 1998, while working towards his fine arts degree from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont., Chad Haspels developed his initial interest in sculpting while experimenting with wood, stone, bronze, and clay. He apprenticed under master carver James Acheampong in 1999.

After completing his education in 2000, Haspels returned to the southwestern Colorado area where he grew up. He has been sculpting with wood full time since 2002, and quickly developed a name for his work by executing publicly commissioned works for the towns of Pagosa Springs and Bayfield, and the community of Vallecito Lake, among others.

Haspels created two new contemporary pieces for "Hold It!" after being invited into the exhibition in late August. His streamlined sculptures might not be recognized by those familiar with his signature public works due to their vastly differing styles, but are sure to be warmly welcomed as a new glimpse into the wood sculptor's ever-changing persona.

"Over the last six years, I have focused my artistic development to using wood as my primary medium for multiple reasons," said Haspels. "My technique involves taking advantage of spontaneous movements and decisions to capture an initial energy with the form of the sculpture. Then, depending on the direction I want to go, I may focus on detail and precision on top of this, or I may leave the energy driven process to show through in the finished piece by way of having tool textures remain."

Haspels' largest sculpture has been a work in process for nearly three years, and is an example of the sculptor's patience and ability to let the energy-driven process show through in his work. "Reclaiming Vessel" is skillfully carved out of Douglas fir, measures 45 inches tall by 24 inches wide, and is presented on a black steel base.

"I worked around the rot that this particular piece of wood had to create the void areas, and to open up the solid walls of the vessel shape," stated Haspels. "This, to me, creates a "container of space", hopefully drawing the eye into the inner space."

The second sculpture is a beautifully calming composition entitled "Duo." It is carved out of ponderosa pine and stands 24 inches tall and is 25 inches in diameter. Made up of two pieces, each is hollowed out and placed back to back with a one inch gap between the two. It is also presented on a black steel base.

Please visit for more information on Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts shows, events, and programs.

Gallery hours are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. Shy Rabbit also welcomes visitors during non-posted hours. Please call (970) 731-2766 to confirm the gallery is open.

Shy Rabbit is located at 333 Bastille Drive, B-1 through B-4, one block north of U.S. 160 off of North Pagosa Blvd. For additional information on Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts, e-mail


Community Choir annual Christmas concert

By Sue Diffee

Special to The PREVIEW

The Pagosa Springs Community Choir will present "Joy," its annual Christmas concert, at 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, Dec. 14 and 16 and at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 17, at the high school auditorium.

The choir is made up of 73 local volunteers who love to sing. Our accompanists are Kathleen Isberg and Sheri Bahn.

Choir directors Pam Spitler and Larry Elginer have chosen some wonderful music for this concert. The program will include a new song called "From and Irish Cabin," and a haunting Celtic piece titled "Shepherd's Joy." Also being sung will be "Mary, Go Tell It," with soloist Matthew Brunson, a wonderful rendition of "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen," "Wonderful Christmastime," written by Paul McCartney, and "Little Drummer Boy." The concert will open with a duo called "Arise," with Bill Norton and Steven Van Horn performing "Mary Did You Know."

The jazz ensemble will perform "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

As always, the choir is pleased to provide free admission for this program as our Christmas gift to you. We gratefully accept any donations, which are tax deductible.


Film society to select works for screening

The Pagosa Springs Film Society will hold a special organizational and planning meeting at p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall.

Films to be screened and discussed in 2007 will be selected from a list of suggestions submitted by previous attendees.

If unable to attend, you may submit your suggestion for a film to be shown by calling 731-9863. There will be no regular Film Society screening and discussion this month.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall is Unit 15, Greenbriar Plaza. Turn east on Greenbrier Drive off of North Pagosa by the fire station, then left into the back parking lot and look for the big sign.


ECA presents 'A Classic Christmas'

By Paul Roberts

Special to The PREVIEW

Elation Center for the Arts presents a concert entitled "A Classic Christmas," 6 p.m,. Saturday, Dec. 23, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

This gala family event features the musical talents of John Graves, Debbie Tucker, The Other Side of the Mountain Singers, Bob Nordmann, Joy Redmon, The Tuller Family Band, Salley Yates, Jessica Espinosa, D'Ann Artis, Sue Diffey, Sue Anderson, Jeannie Dold and the Santa and His Elves' Theatrical Ensemble.

"A Classic Christmas" is a homegrown variety show, utilizing the tremendous creative talents of some of our neighbors, to produce a festive program of music and song. Vocalists will render classic carols and classical musicians will compliment the mood with elegant melodies. Rumor has it that the audience will also perform on some songs.

John Graves will inaugurate this year's event by performing on acoustic piano, made possible through Shoffner's Piano Service.

Did you know that the saxophone was originally intended for classical music? Audience members will hear the classical side of this versatile instrument when saxophonist Bob Nordmann performs in "A Classic Christmas."

As a young boy growing up in Chicago, Nordmann fell in love with classical music, while listening to the radio. "I started collecting a lot of records, he said, "and by the time I was in high school, I was pretty familiar with the classical repertoire." He began studying the saxophone in the fifth grade and continued playing it through high school, performing in the school band, orchestras for musicals, and dance bands. After high school, he set his horn aside, went to college, became an officer in the Navy, raised a family, had a long career with Frito-Lay, retired and moved to Pagosa with his wife, Janet, in 2001.

Nordmann related, "A few years ago, when Melinda Baum was looking for people to play music at an Easter sunrise service. I jokingly told her, 'I'd be happy to play saxophone for you, but unfortunately I sold mine.' She told me that I could borrow her son's instrument," he said. "I tried it, and found that it came back rather easily."

It had been 40 years since he had played the saxophone.

"I'm very happy when I'm playing music," said Nordmann. "It's an expressive thing. I can sit down and practice for two or three hours and totally enjoy it."

Come enjoy a talent-packed cast of local entertainers in "A Classic Christmas."

Desserts and coffee will be provided at intermission. Bring a dessert to share if you wish.

Please note: This concert begins an hour earlier than usual so that more families will attend. Remember, children are admitted free to this holiday event.

Advance tickets, for $8, are available through and at WolfTracks Coffee House. Tickets at the door are $10 for adults. Children, free.

Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse is located at 230 Port Ave. Take U.S. 160 to Vista Boulevard. Turn north on Vista and left on Port.

ECA's community concerts have been upgraded with professional sound, stage and lighting. An elevated stage, donated by the Pagosa Community Choir, provides concertgoers with a much better view. Professional lighting, made possible by contributions from ECA supporters, artistically illuminates the stage.

Elation Center for the Arts serves the people of the southwest region of the USA and beyond by cultivating an appreciation for the arts. ECA offers life enrichment programs focused on preserving our cultural heritage. These programs include community concerts, music assemblies and performance residencies for schools, performance opportunities for accomplished and aspiring artists and classes in the arts for students of all ages and backgrounds. Proceeds from this concert help support these programs. For more information, log on to or call 731-3117.


Pagosa Health and Wellness Network, Inc. creates nonprofit, launches directory

By Sonya Flores Lugo

Special to The PREVIEW

After months of meetings, Pagosa Health and Wellness Network, Inc. has been created to become the official identity of conventional and holistic health and wellness practitioners in Pagosa Springs.

The organization has been created as a nonprofit for bringing forth the vision of promoting Pagosa Springs as a healing oasis.

The first of its projects includes the launching of a premier directory.

The Pagosa Health and Wellness Directory will be geared towards listing conventional and holistic health and wellness practitioners and businesses in Pagosa Springs, so they can come to the public's attention in a well-organized reference format. Included will be information about the diversity of healing modalities present in our community.

The Pagosa Health and Wellness Directory is soliciting participation in the premier edition. A 4 inch by 9 inch color format has been created to fit literature display holders. The first print run of the directory, with 5,000 copies, will be distributed not only in Pagosa Springs, but also within the Four Corners area. The anticipated launch date is mid-January 2007 and will be valid through the spring of 2007. Deadline for submissions is Monday, Dec. 18.

For guidelines and submissions, contact Sophia at Pathways to Soul Mastery at The Heritage Building, 468 Pagosa St., Suite A, call 903-2108 or e-mail at Other advisory contacts include Rebecca Cortez, 264-1433; Kat Katsos, 946-3266; and Terri Miller, 264-0884.

The next meeting of the Pagosa Health and Wellness Network, Inc. will take place 5-7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, at the new Yoga Center, located in the Country Center, Suite H, just behind Movie Gallery. The new Yoga Center is sponsoring the meeting with hors d'oeuvres and refreshments. We encourage members and everyone interested in the directory to come.


UU service to consider giving as a spiritual practice

On Dec. 10, the Second Sunday Meditation Service for the Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will focus on the nature of generosity.

Leader April Merrilee asks, "What does it mean to be generous? Can we include ourselves as recipients of our own generosity? In what ways does giving support the fabric of our lives?"

This session will explore yogic, Buddhist and other teachings that encourage giving as a spiritual practice. Following a period of silent meditation, the group will develop the art of sharing this inner experience through discussion. Merrilee points out, "Here is an opportunity to participate in the gift of spiritual community with our growing Fellowship."

The service begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, Unit 15, Greenbriar Plaza. Turn east on Greenbrier Drive off of North Pagosa by the fire station, then left into the back parking lot and look for the big sign. All are welcome.


Transformation Seminar at Restoration Fellowship

By Phillip Fields

Special to The PREVIEW

Have you ever wondered why some people quickly recover from illness and others spend a lifetime trying to recover?

There are deep issues and spiritual implications that affect our health. We have found that in order to rise above health crisis, the whole person, (spirit, soul, and body) need to be addressed.

This seminar, presented by Phillip Fields, founder and director of Get Real Ministries in Point, Texas, addresses the forces that influence the spirit-mind-body connection. It traces the relationship between the spiritual forces of this world and their impact on our thinking/feeling and the production of either life or death to the soul. It looks at root problem for many diseases and maladies that we face today. Our sinful, separated condition sets the stage for dysfunction within the spirit-mind-body connection, which opens the door for potential health problems. The goal of this seminar is to present the material from a biblical perspective and integrate studies and findings that support biblical truth and healing.

Ultimately, the aim of the information presented is to equip believers who seek healing and supernatural health to find real answers to their real problems. God has made provision for us through the finished work of His Son, to overcome our health struggles. His salvation/deliverance frees the believer to receive healing and peace in place of the pain and suffering caused by worldly stress.

For more information, visit the Web site at, call (903) 473-0900, or e-mail

The seminar will be held 7-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and 10 a.m.-noon and1:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at Restoration Fellowship. For more information about the local seminar, call Kay Redfield 731-3375 or Sharon DeBoer 731-5531. We look forward to serving you!


Chuck Bob at the Movies

'The Departed,' the best of 2006

Charles Streetman

PREVIEW Columnist

Director Martin Scorsese returns triumphantly to the crime drama genre with one of the best films of 2006, "The Departed."

Very rarely do the films I am most eager to see on the big screen ever come to this neck of the woods, but when "The Departed" arrived at our local theater, I was determined to catch it.

Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Aviator") leads the all-star cast as Billy Costigan, a newly graduated Massachusetts State Police officer. He has been specially selected by Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) to go undercover and infiltrate the organization of Boston-based Irish crime lord, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson, "About Schmidt"). Costigan successfully infiltrates the crime syndicate and quickly gains Costello's trust, as he assists in his shady business, but also secretively relays information to the state police.

Meanwhile another state police officer, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon, "Syriana"), is assigned to assist in the investigation and apprehension of Costello, but little does the department know that Sullivan is one of Costello's number-one men. With direct access to information the authorities have on Costello, Sullivan helps keep the crime boss one step ahead of the police. As the police and Costello play an increasingly intense game of cat-and-mouse, both parties soon realize that the other has snuck a mole into their ranks. And Costello charges Sullivan with the task of revealing the undercover office, while the captain pressures Costigan to expose the rat in the department. Tensions rise as the two men come closer to exposing the other, while cracking under the pressure of being exposed themselves. The bloody, pulse-pounding finale is one that only Martin Scorsese could deliver!

"The Departed" is actually an American remake of the Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs." Having not seen the original, I only had the reputation of Scorsese and writer William Monahan ("Kingdom of Heaven") to go on. Scorsese's directing is masterful as his vision accurately amplifies the violent struggle between the Irish mafia and Boston authorities. Monahan's screenwriting is meticulously suspenseful, but never pretentious or overbearing.

The cast delivers outstanding performances, with the exception of Nicholson, who simply plays his typical self, but Marty keeps much of it in check. There are several nomination-worthy performances, but the one I would like to actually see nominated is Mark Wahlberg's ("Four Brothers") stand-out performance as Dignam, a smart-mouthed Boston officer.

"The Departed" is a taut and masterful American crime thriller. It's also the best American crime thriller I've seen since "Goodfellas," another Scorsese masterpiece. It is riveting, with intense suspense and skillful performances, conveyed through Scorsese's brilliant direction and Monahan's tight screenwriting. It is a surefire contender for Best Picture, and hands down my absolute favorite movie of 2006!

New to DVD is the eye-opening documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Former Vice President Al Gore gives a compelling presentation of the causes and effects of global warming. This film uses the slideshow Gore has traveled the world with and combines it with updated information that has come to light over the years since he began his crusade.

Viewing before-and-after photos of glaciers and ice fields, the audience sees evidence of how these precious sources of water for the entire planet are disappearing at an alarming rate. There are graphs showing warming and cooling trends over thousands of years and depicting population growth and the impact these have on the warming process. Computerized models provide a futuristic look into the possible outcome of rising waters and warmer temperatures on land, wildlife and, yes, us.

The evidence doesn't get any clearer than this, but what is shocking is how so many people can deny that global warming is actually happening. For the skeptics, Gore's film is a wake-up call. Many of the effects of global warming have made themselves known through the drastically intensified changes of the weather alone. A significant segment of Gore's presentation reflects on Hurricane Katrina and the devastating outcome it had on New Orleans - this among other meteorological observations, such as increased tornadoes, drought, and rainfall.

The problem with the documentary is when it occasionally breaks from Gore's presentation to reflect on events in his personal life leading to his determination to spread the word. These segments are unnecessary, and the film could have used those minutes to dig deeper into his presentation. But this isn't a reason to avoid seeing this film. Although some may not care to listen to Gore's presentation, it's not the messenger that's important - it's the message.

"An Inconvenient Truth" shows us why global warming is not just a "theory" as some government sources have tried to tell us. The film also reveals some solutions that can help slow the process. Instead of putting people out of work, which is the most common scare tactic I hear, new industry can be created as well as new jobs.

This is unquestionably the most important documentary of 2006, and demands to be seen.

Special features on the disc are the usual director and producer commentaries, a "making of" featurette and an interview from Al Gore in which he presents several updates on the progress of global warming and solutions that have been put into motion to help combat it, since the making of the film.


Community Center News

Holiday events at the community center

By Becky Herman

PREVIEW Columnist

The Festival of Trees is a tradition in the making.

Hurry, you still have today and tomorrow to view the beautifully decorated trees in the center's multi-purpose room! Bring the family and stop by to see the creative efforts of Pagosa's artistic community. Public viewing hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Then, tomorrow evening at 6 p.m., the party begins with Wildflower Catering supplying the food and dessert. Holiday music will be provided by John Graves. There will also be a cash bar with beer and wine.

The auction will begin at 8:08 p.m. Bill Nobles has agreed to act as auctioneer. Each tree will be auctioned off, with the money from the auction going to local non-profit organizations. Each tree's sponsor will choose the non-profit which will receive the proceeds from the sale of his/her donated tree.

Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased at the center and the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center.

This is a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays; bring the whole family to see the trees when they are being displayed. Then, get out your dressy duds and come to the party and auction for a sparkly evening of wonderful music and food - a new Pagosa holiday tradition.

New Year's Eve dance

John Graves and Company will provide the live music for this annual adult dance. The date, of course, is Dec. 31, and doors will open at 8:30 p.m. The dance itself lasts from 9 p.m. to 12:12 a.m. and will feature hors d'oeuvres and dessert, as well as a cash bar with beer, wine, and champagne. Mercy and the dance committee are arranging for door prizes.

Tickets are $20 per person in advance and $25 at the door. Advance tickets will be available at the center and at WolfTracks Bookstore. Watch here for further details. Call the center at 264-4152 for more information.

Yoga, time change

Our yoga class may be the answer to your holiday stress. Join in for some stretching and relaxation.

Addie Greer is still conducting the class in Diana Baird's absence. The yoga group meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday mornings. Addie reports she has had requests to start at this slightly earlier time. Bring a yoga mat and dress in comfortable clothing. Call the Center at 264-4152 for more information.

Line dancing

A greeting from Gerry Potticary, "Special thanks to all the great people we have met through the line dancing class. It has been great fun and we look forward to seeing you in January of 2007. Have the best Christmas ever. And to the brave men who make up our couples group, you have made twice the progress that was expected. Of course we have to give credit to some good partners, especially since you to go home with them. Maybe Dancing With the Stars will call us someday - then again, maybe not! It's been fun. Gerry, Beverly, Peggy and Teri."

Call the center at 264-4152 for information about this and other community center- sponsored programs.

Loma Linda homeowners

There will be a meeting open to Loma Linda residents and property owners at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, in the north conference room. Call Clyda Elginer at 264-0198 or e-mail her at to suggest topics for discussion.

Managing diabetes

The managing diabetes group has its regular meeting the third Thursday of the month; the next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 18. The program for the evening is still in the planning stages. Watch here for further details.

eBay Club

Need a little extra cash for the holidays? Join Ben Bailey the first and third Wednesday of each month if you are interested in learning about buying and selling on the Internet. Ben and the eBay Club explore how to look up items similar to the ones you are thinking of selling. In this way you can make informed decisions about what constitutes a reasonable price and how best to display your items on-line.

Call Ben at 264-0293 or the center at 264-4152 for more information.

Scrapbook Club

Melissa Bailey sent me this report.

"We had a great turnout at our last Scrapbook Club meeting of 2006. There were some working on their scrapbooks while others perfected their handmade cards.

"The next meeting will be on Jan. 13 in the north conference room. There is a side entrance that is more accessible to the north conference room than the front of the building.

"If there is some special project that you are working on that requires tools that you don't have, call me at 731-1574. I will try to locate them for you. Hope to see you there."

Computer lab news

Today's Q&A session has been cancelled due to holiday activities at the center. Call 264-4152 if you wish to schedule an appointment with me when the Q&A sessions resume Dec. 14.

The community center will offer two new computer classes after the start of the new year. One, which will cover word processing, will use both Microsoft Word and the open source software Openoffice Writer. Cutting/copying and pasting, formatting, language and grammar tools will be covered. The other class will offer an in-depth look at spreadsheet software, specifically Microsoft Excel and Openoffice Calc. Formatting, printing address labels, and automatic calculations will be highlighted. If you have taken the beginning class or an equivalent and wish to explore these software programs, please call the Center to place your name on the list. Each class will last for two sessions of two hours each. Watch here for class dates and times.

Center's winter hours

The community center's winter hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 to 4.

Activities this week

Today -- Festival of Trees open for public viewing, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; San Juan Outdoor Club Christmas party, 6-9 p.m.

Dec. 8 - Festival of Trees open for public viewing, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Bridge for Fun and duplicate bridge, 12:30-4 p.m.; Cloverbuds, 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Teen Center open, 2-8 p.m.; Festival of Trees party and auction, 6-9 p.m.

Dec. 9 - Grace Evangelical Toy Drive, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Teen center open, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wolf Creek Back Country Avalanche Education, 6-9 p.m.

Dec. 10 - Grace Evangelical Church service, 10 a.m.-noon; Church of Christ Sunday service, 10 a.m.-noon; High Roads Baptist Church, 6-9 p.m. Fairfield Activities information meeting for time-share visitors, 6-8 p.m.

Dec. 11 - Senior walking program, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30-4 p.m.; baton twirling class, 3:45-4:45 p.m.; C Team basketball, 3:45-5:30 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; Loma Linda property owners meeting, 7-9 p.m.

Dec. 12 - Over-the-Hill Hoopsters, 8-9 a.m.; yoga, 10-11:30 a.m.; senior walking program, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; C Team basketball, 3:45-5:30 p.m.; TOPS Tourism Committee meeting, 4-6 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; youth basketball, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; Creeper Jeepers, 7-8 p.m.

Dec. 13 - Aikido class, 1-3 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; Weight Watchers, 4:45-6:45 p.m.; photo club, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; First Assembly of God Old Fashioned Christmas, 6-8 p.m.

Dec. 14 - Over-the-Hill Hoopsters, 8-9 a.m.; watercolor club, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Computer Q&A with Becky, 1-4 p.m.; Pagosa Springs Area Association of Realtors, 1-5 p.m.; C Team basketball, 3:45-5:30 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; youth basketball, 5:30-8:30 p.m.; Chimney Rock, 6-8 p.m.

Need a place to have a party or meeting? We have very affordable rooms for small, mid-size and large groups. A catering kitchen is also available. Tables, tablecloths, chairs, a portable stage, a dance floor, Internet access, a PA system, and audiovisual equipment are also available. The center is located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. Call 264-4152.


Senior News

December is Mental Health Month

By Jeni Wiskofske

SUN Columnist

Depression is more than feeling sad. Like heart disease or diabetes, depression is a serious medical illness. It affects your thoughts, feelings, actions and health. But as with most other illnesses, depression can be treated.

Anyone can become depressed. Depression is caused by many things including stress, medical illness, prescription medications, alcohol or other drug use, family history, genetics, and psychiatric disorders.

Depression may not go away by itself. Without treatment, it can last for months or years. You need to take action to feel better. For people who are depressed, the hardest thing to do is to reach out for help, but it is also the first step toward getting better.

For more information, go to or call (800) 456-3249.

Suicide in Colorado 

This report identifies the characteristics of people who are most at risk of committing suicide. This new, comprehensive compilation of data shows that an estimated 9,600 Coloradans seriously contemplate suicide each year - the majority of who do not receive treatment for their suicidal symptoms - and, that in any given year, about 600 Coloradans can be expected to die by suicide.

- Although 4.4 percent of older adults have a mood disorder such as depression, up to 20 percent have significant symptoms of depression.

- About 11 percent of adults over age 55 have an anxiety disorder.

- The highest rate of suicide for any age group (19.4 per 100,000) is among people age 85 or older. The second highest rate of suicide (17.7 per 100,000) is among those between age 75 and 84.

- Eighty-three percent of suicides by people over age 65 were by men.

- Asian American women have the highest suicide rate among women over age 65.

- Older adults enrolled in Medicare pay 50 percent of outpatient mental health treatment costs, but they pay only 20 percent of costs associated with other medical services.

- About 17 percent of older adults qualified to receive benefits through Medicaid were not enrolled in their state programs.

If you need help or if you need to talk to someone immediately, please call the suicide hotline at (800) 273-TALK.

Holiday food drive

Operation Helping Hand receives donations from the community and distributes them to families, children, and senior citizens in need during the holiday season. The Den is going to sponsor a food drive until Dec. 11 in support of Operation Helping Hand, as a way to give back to our community. We will be accepting canned goods and non-perishable food items through Dec. 11. The food donation boxes will be located in the office. Please bring in a can or box of food and help those in need this holiday season.

Test tour Medicare IQ

What is your Medicare IQ? Join The Den during lunch Monday, Dec. 11, for an interactive session on Medicare. Learn more about the Medicare basics, drugs and fraud. Check out the newest Medicare changes. See where Medicare fraud happens. And, most importantly, ask questions and get answers. Mark your calendars and attend lunch to increase your Medicare IQ.

Medicare enrollment

Medicare's Part D (drug plan) open enrollment has begun.

It's time to re-evaluate your current plan. Has it met your needs this year? Medicare recommends taking this quick Rx Enrollment Checkup. If you are satisfied with your plan, you do not have to do anything to re-enroll. Take a few minutes now and ask yourself these three questions: 1) Cost: Will your premium and costs change in 2007? 2) Coverage: Do you need more coverage in 2007? Will the prescription drugs you take be covered by your plan in 2007? 3) Customer Service: Are you satisfied with your plan's service?

Open enrollment ends Dec. 31 and coverage begins on Jan 1., so any changes need to be made in December. Remember to enroll in early December to make sure you can get the prescriptions you need Jan. 1.

Let us help you prepare for open enrollment; call The Den at 264-2167 to make an appointment with one of the counselors to help you re-evaluate your plan. Appointments are available Mondays and Tuesdays in December in Pagosa. The Den's Medicare counselors will also be available in Arboles, at Navajo State Park, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for Medicare enrollment appointments. Remember, Medicare counselors here at The Den are not only available to help you with your drug plan options, but they are also available to help you with your questions about Medicare in general.

Dance for Health

Dance for Health classes are available at The Den at 10 a.m. Wednesdays. Karma Raley, the dance instructor, enjoys sharing her love of dance and blends basic ballet, modern jazz and jazz dance with yoga awareness to create a full body routine which makes it possible to work out to the degree you want and/or need to. Wear loose comfortable clothing and bring a mat or towel. Join us at The Den and learn great dance techniques while having a fun time exercising.

Nails with Dru

Do you want to feel pampered this holiday season? Or, how about some fun conversation while doing something nice for yourself?

Dru Sewell, our beloved volunteer, has offered to do your nails at The Den 9:30-11 a.m. Wednesdays. You can either make an appointment or drop in for your nail treatment. Dru will trim, file and paint your nails while entertaining you with her bubbly personality!

Free movie

Mark Monaco, the new owner of the Liberty Theater, has declared the second Wednesday of every month "Seniors' Day."

And what does that mean?

It means a free flick at the big-screen movies for folks who are 55 and older - and their families!

Not only will the Liberty Theater provide a free movie, but they also have a $2 snack deal which includes a small popcorn and small soda. The first Seniors' Day is at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13. The film will be "Christmas in the Clouds," rated PG, which was an audience favorite at the 2002 Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema. Transportation is available, provided by the senior bus for a suggested donation of $2. Join The Den and Liberty Theater for this romantic comedy and add a little laughter to your holiday season.

Recovery of the Peregrine

This crow-sized falcon is admired for its incredible speeds which are seldom exceeded by any other bird. Plunging from tremendous heights, the peregrine falcon can reach up to 180 m.p.h. in pursuit of prey. It feeds primarily on birds, which it takes on the wing.

Like many other birds of prey, peregrine falcons have suffered a worldwide decline due to the use of agricultural and industrial use of pesticides. Exposure to DDT and other chemical contaminants has caused population declines since the 1940s. These pesticides cause eggshell thinning which drastically lowers breeding success.

Mike Reid, of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, will be offer a revealing presentation on the "Recovery of the Peregrine Falcon" at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, at The Den. Join us to learn about the recovery program in our own state.

Help others - volunteer

The December holiday season is gearing up and with it comes many charitable projects filled with the spirit of giving.

It is a wonderful time to support your neighbors and your community with volunteer service. The Den is going to give back to our community by helping Operation Helping Hand at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Extension Building located on U.S. 84 at the fairgrounds. Operation Helping Hand distributes food, clothing and other items to those in need in our community over the holidays. The Den will be helping to sort our clothing and other donations into "something old, something new" piles so the items can then be organized into gift packages.

Sign up in The Den office by Monday, Dec. 11, to participate in volunteering and lending a helping hand to those who are less fortunate this holiday season. Carpooling available if needed.

Holiday party at The Den

Happy holidays and ho ho ho! Egg nog and the mistle toe.

Join us to celebrate this holiday season - for fun and friendship, which are the best reasons. The Den and Archuleta Seniors Inc. will celebrate the holidays with a holiday party at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 15.

Festivities will begin before lunch with a spread of appetizers such as cheese balls, crackers and other finger food graciously provided by Archuleta Seniors Inc. After lunch, we will have a "bring a gift, get a gift" holiday gift exchange. If you would like to participate in the gift exchange, all you have to do is buy a gift, wrap it, label it with the appropriate "male," "female" or "both" so everyone knows if your gift is gender specific and place it under the tree.

Then, after all of our bellies are full, we will take turns visiting our lovely decorated tree and choosing a gift. (But, remember, you have to bring a gift and place it under the tree to receive one).

Santa Claus is also coming to town and making a stop at The Den to bring a little cheer to our holiday party. And, if that's not enough, we are honored to have John Graves on the piano join us following lunch for sing-alongs to some of our favorite holiday songs. So, whether you are interested in the appetizers, the gifts, Santa Claus, the holiday sing-along with John Graves or just hanging out with your friends, The Den's holiday party is guaranteed to be fun for all. December 15 is also "Red and Green Day," so wear your holiday colors to add to the festivity of the party.

Waterpiks are here

The Silver Foxes Den Senior Center received the waterpiks you have all been waiting for. The waterpiks are offered at a discounted price of $22 each. Remember, there are only limited supplies at this great price, so don't delay.

Volunteer servers

The Den would like to thank Jim Pearson, Joe Nanus, Adam Wadas and Melissa Wollenweber for their time and their help as they volunteered to serve the Thanksgiving meal at The Den. These volunteers served a total of 64 meals allowing the seniors to stay seated and enjoy their lunches while visiting with friends. Once again, thank you to our volunteers for all that they do!

Slices of Nature

Bonnie, the owner of Slices of Nature, graciously donated money raised from the sale of large soft cuddly teddy bear to The Den. The teddy bear went to Susi Cochran and Bonnie donated $109 to The Den. Thank you so much Bonnie for your continued support, contributions and help in making our events at the Senior Center even more enjoyable!

In loving memory

Our dear friend, George Golightly, passed away over Thanksgiving weekend.

The Den had a special moment in George's memory during lunch with Dorothy O'Harra playing his favorite dance song, "The Tennessee Waltz."

George Golightly was the most generous, the sweetest and most loving man. We all miss George very much and we feel that we are better people for knowing him. Thank you George, and we will carry your spirit in our hearts.

Activities at a glance

Thursday, Dec. 7 - Lunch served in Arboles (reservations required) and $1 birthday lunch celebrations, noon.

Friday, Dec. 8 - The Geezers meeting, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30 p.m.; duplicate bridge, 12:30 p.m.; Seniors Inc. meeting, 1:00 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 11 - Food drive ends; Medicare appointments for enrollments in Arboles at Navajo State Park, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Susan Stoffer, nurse and counselor, available 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30 p.m.; Test Your Medicare IQ presentation, 12:30 p.m.; Medicare counseling and enrollments by appointment in Pagosa; final day to sign up for volunteering at Operation Helping Hand.

Tuesday, Dec. 12 - Yoga, 10:30 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; blood pressure checks, 11:30 a.m.; canasta, 1 p.m.; Medicare counseling and enrollments by appointment.

Wednesday, Dec. 13 - Nails with Dru, 9:30-11- a.m.; Dance for Health class, 10 a.m.; basic computer class, 10: a.m.; Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program presentation with Mike Reid, 12:45 p.m.; free movie at Liberty Theater, 1 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 14 - Volunteer at Operation Helping Hand, 10 a.m.

Friday, Dec. 15 - The Geezers meeting, 9 a.m.; Archuleta Seniors Inc. and the Silver Foxes Den Senior Center holiday party with appetizers, a visit from Santa Claus, a gift exchange and music with John Graves on piano, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30 p.m.; duplicate bridge, 12:30 p.m.


Suggested donation $3 for ages 60-plus and kids 12 and under, all others $5.

Salad bar available every day at The Den beginning at 11:30 a.m. Menu subject to change.

Thursday, Dec. 7 - Lunch served in Arboles (reservations required). Lasagna, green beans, tossed salad, mixed fruit with bananas, garlic roll, and birthday cake.

Friday, Dec. 8 - Chicken and noodles, seasoned asparagus, apricots and pineapple compote, and whole wheat bread.

Monday, Dec. 11 - Pork chow mein, steamed rice, whole green beans, and peaches.

Tuesday, Dec. 12 - Pueblo stew with vegetables, yellow squash, apple slices, and corn bread.

Wednesday, Dec. 13 - Honey barbecue chicken, oven baked potatoes, Brussels sprouts, diced pears, and whole wheat bread.

Friday, Dec. 15 - Chili con carne, broccoli cuts, pineapple and mandarin oranges, and corn muffin.


Veteran's Corner

Emergency VAHC issues, part 2

By Andy Fautheree

Lately, I have had a number of veterans or surviving spouses come to me with questions about emergency care at non-VA facilities and asking who is responsible for paying for those emergency services for veterans enrolled in the VA Health Care system.

Last week, I talked about some of the official information given me by the VA. This week, I will try to expand on that information.

Some of this additional information was provided by Fee Services at the Albuquerque VAMC.

Five main criteria

Following is a quote from an official Albuquerque VAMC "denial letter":

"Payment may be made if all 5 of the following criteria are met: (1) veteran is financially liable to the provider for emergency treatment; and (2) veteran is enrolled in the VA health care system and received treatment within a 24-month period proceeding emergency care; and (3) the veteran has no other coverage under a health plan contract that would pay, in whole or part; and (4) VA facilities are not feasibly available and an attempt to use them beforehand would have been hazardous to life or health; and (5) emergency services were provided in a hospital emergency department, a free standing urgent care clinic, or a similar facility held out as providing urgent or emergency care to the public, up to the point of medical stability."

"The absence of any one of these criteria precludes payment by the US Department of Veteran Affairs."

We find this in a recent official denial letter:

"Consideration of possible VA financial assistance has been given your claim under the Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act, H.R. 2116. The following decision has been made: Claim has been disapproved."

Medicare not shared

"Reason(s) for not approving claim: Veteran has other health coverage (Medicare, Medicaid, CHAMPUS, blue Cross and Blue Shield, etc.)."

I asked the Albuquerque VAMC Fee Services to explain further. I was told, "if the veteran is 50 percent or more service connected disabled, ER treatment should be billed to the VA, even if Medicare pays the bill, and the VA can still pay and the ER facility will reimburse Medicare."

The key word here is "can" pay. Payment is decided by Fee Director review.

The above letter was sent to a 100-percent SCD, Medicare eligible veteran. Why his ER bill was not paid is unknown at this time. It may be a matter for appeal.

However, if the veteran is not service-connected disabled and is covered by Medicare, the VA most likely will not pay for any part of the bill. Medicare Part A and B would be considered "other health care coverage" and would be first payer. It appears the veteran is stuck for the Medicare co-pay.

If the non-SCD veteran does not have Medicare or any other health care coverage then the veteran would meet that part of the five-part criteria and the VA would most likely pay for the ER services. You will be required to pay the normal VA co-pays.

What if a VA Outpatient Clinic doctor diagnoses a critical medical problem with the patient and sends them to a local ER provider? In that case, the VA Clinic doctor should notify the Managed Care Office (Albuquerque VAMC) within 48 hours for pre-authorization of the ER need. The VA pay/no-pay rules above could still apply.

The VA advised that it will pay for fee based services for any required ER services in non-VAHC facilities related to a veteran's VA service connected disability. Also, the VA will pay for fee based services in non-VAHC facilities for any required ER services as a result of prior treatment for that medical condition in a VAHC facility.

Inpatient care

Essentially, it seems the same rules apply for Inpatient ER care at a non-VA facility. The VA must be contacted within 72 hours so the veteran can be transferred to a VAHC facility as soon as the patient is stabilized. This VA contact can be made by the veteran, a family member or the ER provider.

In summary, the VA refers to the "Millennium Bill" as the essential guideline for fee based services in non-VA health care facilities and the pay/no-pay decisions. Service-connected disabled veterans are given highest priority. For non service-connected veterans, the Millennium Bill says the VA is the last resort for payment for fee based services

Fuel money

Don't forget to stop by my office for reimbursement of your fuel and overnight accommodation receipts to VA health care appointments.

We are currently reimbursing 100 percent of your VA Health Care travel expenses.

Also, help a fellow veteran who may be going in the same direction to the same VA facility and give me a call if you can provide transportation or need transportation. I will keep a calendar of who is going where to coordinate this important program.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 400 South Camino Del Rio, Suite G, (next to Big 5 Sports). Phone number is 247-2214. Albuquerque VAMC phone number is (800) 465-8262.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans' benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at 46 Eaton Drive, Suite 7 (behind City Market). The office number is 731-3837. The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.


Library News

Christmas events at the library

By Carole Howard

PREVIEW Columnist, and the library staff

Operation Helping Hand has a new partner this holiday season, as the library sponsors a very special Christmas tree to buy books for disadvantaged children in Archuleta County.

Between now and Dec. 15, we hope you will sponsor an ornament on the "Giving Tree" located in the library. Each ornament represents a child who would love to receive a book as a gift. Your donation of a book - or cash towards a book - will be combined with Christmas packages put together by Operation Helping Hand.

As well, you and your youngsters are invited to a free Children's Christmas Festival this Saturday, December 9. Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. there will be Christmas games, crafts and refreshments. Special entertainment will be provided when the Pagosa Springs Children's Chorale performs at 11 a.m. Kids also can visit the "Dear Santa" post office to write a letter to Santa.

Everyone attending will be given a special voucher to watch a free screening of a children's Christmas movie at the Liberty Theater at 1:30 p.m., right after the library event.

We hope you will join us for this fun children's holiday party — and take the opportunity to help youngsters less fortunate by sponsoring an ornament on the "Giving Tree."

Help for adolescent mental disorders

When an adolescent is diagnosed with a mental disorder, parents, teachers and counselors search for expert advice.

Thanks to the Annenberg Foundation Trust, more than 100 internationally respected psychiatrists and psychologists have synthesized the current state of knowledge about disorders that most often appear for the first time during adolescence and digested the material into books for the lay public. Published by the Oxford University Press, the series has been donated by the Annenberg Foundation to libraries across the country, including ours. Separate books cover depression or bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia. Related information is also available at

New books by best-selling authors

Anna Quindlen's latest is called "Rise and Shine," a novel about two sisters, the true meaning of success and the qualities in life that matter most. "The Innocent Man," by John Grisham, his first nonfiction book, tells of the troubled life of a second-round draft pick who was charged with raping and killing a waitress in Oklahoma. "Echo Park" is Michael Connelly's latest, another in the popular series starring Detective Harry Bosch.

Gifts for Christmas

"Simply Handmade: 365 easy gifts and decorations you can make" is a book with easy-to-make projects you can be proud of all year long. "The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain," by Betty Edwards, is the second revised edition of the world's most widely used drawing instruction book, now with more than 50 percent new material. "The Great Unraveling," by Paul Krugman, is this New York Times' columnist's view of the power of the right-wing movement in America today. On the other end of the political spectrum, Patrick J. Buchanan's "State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America" is his impassioned view of the current immigration situation in the U.S. And Steve Coll has written "Ghost Wars" about the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to Sept. 10, 2001.

Four children's books with great illustrations

"When Marian Sang," by Pam Munoz Ryan, is the inspirational story of singer Marian Anderson. "The Christmas Tree Cried," by Claudia Cangilla McAdam, is a tale of faith, hope and overcoming the odds. "Bear Wants More," by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, tells of a very hungry bear waking up in the springtime after hibernating during winter. "Can You Move like an Elephant?," by Judy Hindley, is an interactive book that gets everyone moving. The illustrations for all these books are wonderful.

Tips for a healthy lifestyle

"30 Minutes a Day to a Healthy Heart" is a new Reader's Digest book with practical tips on how minor lifestyle improvements can help you avoid a heart attack and drop your cholesterol, high blood pressure, weight problems, chronic inflammation, metabolic syndrome and oxidative stress.

Thanks to our donors

This week our thanks for books and materials go to Charlene Baumgardner, Barbara Carlos, Sharon Garrison, Lucy Gonzales, Nancy Green, Kathy Hamilton, Bob Henley, Gary Hopkins, Debra Orechwa, Esther Orr, Jane Reseigh, Leeann Skoglund and Margaret Wilson.

Special thanks to Clay Hendrickson, who made a generous donation to the library after staff helped him with the copier and microfilm reader.

Arts Line

Want to teach a workshop? Call the Arts Council

By Linda Strathdee

PREVIEW Columnist

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council sponsors and manages workshops in the arts and crafts space at the community center. From the outset, the Arts Council has been a partner and supporter of the community center.

We started the workshops in 2002 and they have grown substantially since that time. Workshops provide those who want to teach a venue to do so and, at the same time, give our residents a place to learn something new whether it is watercolor, acrylic, oil, drawing, photography or the like. The space also provides a home for the photo club, watercolor club and a meeting location for various other groups.

If you are interested in teaching a workshop or class, call the gallery at Town Park for a workshop application form (264-5020) or download the form from our Web site, If you are a resident and have ideas and suggestions for a class or workshop we haven't offered, let us hear from you. The Arts Council's mailing address is: P.O. Box 533, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147 or e-mail

Start the new year with an art class

PSAC has begun to develop its 2007 workshop schedule with the first classes being offered in January. Brighten up your winter by signing up for one of the earliest classes.

- Jan. 15-17: Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett will teach Beginners I, the Basics of Watercolor. This workshop is for individuals who have always wanted to try their hand at watercolor - or who are not ready to take other workshops. It offers a chance to learn to paint with others who are uncertain of their talent, or who have struggled to learn on their own, with limited success. At the Pagosa Springs Community Center, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., or so, each day: $175 for three full days, $150 for PSAC members. Bring your lunch.

- Jan. 22-24: Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett will teach Beginners II, Building Blocks of Watercolor. This workshop builds on Beginners I and uses everything students learned in those classes. In Beginners II, you will continue to work together to make it easy for you to create independently. You use all the materials from before, and just a few more things. Remember, watercolor is magic and fun!

Mornings there will be lessons and exercises about shapes, composition and design, choosing subjects, further study about value and color, and advanced techniques such as lifting, scraping, masking, glazing, working with sponges, salt, saran wrap, and waxed paper. Afternoons will be spent painting, using the morning's lessons. Sessions are held at the Pagosa Springs Community Center, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., or so, each day: $175 for three full days, $150 for PSAC members. Bring your lunch

- Jan. 29-31: Pierre Mion will teach his winter watercolor workshop. An internationally-known artist and illustrator who worked with Norman Rockwell for 12 years, Pierre will offer his winter watercolor workshop beginning Monday, Jan. 29.

For more information about any of these workshops, call the Pagosa Springs Arts Council, 264-5020.

The Artist Spirit

This segment of our column addresses your heartfelt questions about the arts. It is geared to enlighten and inform, be sincere, humorous or just have fun. This is an opportunity to hear what other artists are thinking and feeling and is a place to speak out in the local art community

If you have questions for Dear Liz Rae, e-mail attention: The Artist Spirit, or mail your questions to The Artist Spirit, PSAC, PO Box 533, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Your name is not necessary.

Dear Liz Rae:

I copy other artists' work. I need my own style of painting. All my work looks like my teacher's and the rest of the class. I don't know my style so how do I develop it? I don't have any original ideas, just hand-me-downs and look-a-likes.

Second Hand Rose

Dear Second Hand Rose:

Hand-me-downs are not bad. In fact, greater students of the arts stir the waters for you. Whether it is gallery trips or classes, receiving from others and their years of experience is all part of developing technique and knowledge. There is a point that you must take courage and start thinking for yourself. Sounds like you are there.

A first-grade teacher once said that she could tell after a short time whose work belonged to which student. They had already developed a style not even trying. I believe we start listening to others early in life because we don't trust our own voice.

Ask yourself:

What kind of art do I gravitate to?

What kind of subjects am I passionate about?

Do I like loose, detailed, bold or soft colors, textured or smooth?

What speaks to me? Why do I want to paint it?

Before you know it, you will be passing down your ideas for others to try on. They will admire your courage in being different.

Stylish and hip in the arts,

Lizzie Rae

Watercolor club

For the month of December only, the watercolor club will meet the second Thursday, Dec. 14, at 10 a.m. in the art room at the community center. Watercolorists of all levels are provided the opportunity to use the room for the day. Attending members contribute $5 for use of the space. Attendees should bring a bag lunch, their supplies and a willingness to have a fun creative day! New participants are always welcome.

Photography club

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, in the art room at the community center.

The agenda begins with a half hour for socialization and members will vote on the images submitted for the photo competition.

The program will begin at 7 with a presentation by Al Olson on night and low-light photography. Olson has maintained a special interest in night photography techniques for over 50 years. He will present prints made in different low-light situations and explain how to determine exposures for these situations. It is recommended that members download the Existing Light Guide from and bring the hard copy with them to the meeting for notes and reference.

Following the feature presentation, ribbons will be awarded to the winners of the photo competition. Members are allowed to enter one image in each of two competition categories. The categories are: "Open," in which any subject matter is allowed, and "Theme," where the subject matter must fit that month's theme. The December theme is theme is "Fall Colors."

Two club field trips are planned to give members an opportunity to practice low-light techniques. Participants meet on Dec. 16 and 17 from 4:15 to 6:45 p.m. at the downtown parking lot to photograph Christmas lights along the river, as well as other decorations in the downtown area. Since weather and light conditions will vary, members may wish to attend both events.

Interested photography enthusiasts are welcome to attend at no charge for the first meeting. Any and all are invited to join for $20 annual dues. For more information, contact club President Sharon Comeaux at 731-4511 (daytime), 731-5328 (evening) or e-mail at

PSAC Members Gift Shop

The PSAC board of directors would like to offer a special thanks to all members who participated in this year's gallery gift shop.

While sales were limited, the gallery looked festive and the community got to see creations from a number of our members. Hats off to all who participated.

2007 Arts Council calendars

There are still 2007 Arts Council calendars available. The calendar features works from local artists Claire Goldrick, Betty Slade, Jan Brookshier, Art Franz, Diana Baird, Al Olson, Jeff Laydon, David Hunter, Barbara Rosner, Jeanine Malaney and Emily Tholberg. Artwork exhibited includes photography, oil, fabric art, watercolor and mixed media. Calendars are available at the gallery for $9.95 plus tax for nonmembers and $8.95 plus tax for PSAC members. These calendars make wonderful Christmas gifts; call and leave a message and staff will make sure you get them in time for Christmas.

PSAC open house

On Jan. 18, PSAC will hold an open house in the South Conference Room at the community center. Mark your calendars now and plan to drop by and learn more about the Arts Council, its mission and goals, and what members to accomplish in 2007 and beyond.

Winter hours at gallery

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery at Town Park goes on winter hours this week.

The gallery will not be staffed on a regular basis, but voice mail and e-mail will be checked regularly so please leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Remember, it is not too early to sign up for the January workshops and this can be done over the phone or through the mail.

PSAC Calendar

All PSAC classes and workshops are held in the arts and craft space at the community center, unless otherwise noted. All exhibits are shown at the PSAC Town Park Gallery, unless otherwise noted. For more information contact PSAC at 264-5020.

Dec. 13 - Photography club, 6:30 p.m. at the community center.

Dec. 14 - Watercolor club, 10 a.m. at the community center.

December 16-17 - Photography club field trips.

Jan. 15-17 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett workshop, Beginners I - The Basics of Watercolor.

Jan. 18 - PSAC open house, community center, 4-7 p.m.

Jan. 22-24 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett workshop, Beginners II - Building Blocks of Watercolor.

Jan. 29-31 - Pierre Mion watercolor workshop.

Feb. 12-14 - Soledad Estrada-Leo's, Big Little Angelos Workshop.

Feb. 19-21 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett workshop, Intermediate - Using Photos, People and More.

Artsline is a communication vehicle of the Pagosa Springs Arts Council, courtesy of The Pagosa Springs Sun. For inclusion in Artsline, send information to PSAC e-mail ( In the subject area of your e-mail, please write "Artsline." Your attachment should be in a Microsoft Word file document format. Images should be limited to 2 (300dpi, 5x7 inches in size) and sent as a separate (individual attachments) e-mail. You can also mail a CD of images and information to PSAC, P.O. Box 533, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Deadline is at least two weeks prior to event. We would love to hear from you regarding suggestions for Artsline. Events in surrounding areas will be included when deemed of interest to our readers.


Food for Thought

Wine is food ... and man must eat

By Karl Isberg

I admit it.

I did it.

Nearly a full case of wine, in a little more than two weeks.

Went through it like a thresher driven by a Benzedrine-addled Kansas dryland farmer rocketing crazily through a field of ripe wheat.

One day, I was breaking open the case; what seemed to be the next day, I was wondering where all those darned bottles went.

None of the wines were particularly expensive; James and I are still procuring shipments of reasonably priced bottles, some certifiably cheap - and, to date, all fine. We buy these wines for a group of about 10 people, and everyone seems happy as clams. What ever that means. Who can tell if a clam is happy?

And all are happy with good reason: most of the juice is very good, all things considered.

When you get right down to it, we're pretty proud of ourselves. James knows his wines and I like to pretend I have something to do with the selection.

We've been pounding down some mighty nice everyday drinkers - all reds - most of them French and the majority of them Rhones of one sort or another. We order them from one of the wine world's cult heroes - an author, a wine merchant of renown and, now, the owner of a vineyard and winery in the south of France. Our source prides himself on convincing some of that great wine land's artisanal vignerons to allow him to ship their products to the U.S., cared for like delicate infants from cellar to your front door, cuddled in padded boxes, their temps controlled, bright light banished. I am not going to tell you the name of this man or his business, for fear you will call him and order what I want.

Ahhh, but back to this wine: The real, live ... alive ... stuff.

With our last order, I took my performance and enjoyment to a higher level.

Drank nearly all of it. Eleven bottles in fourteen days.

Pretty much all by my lonesome.

And, pardner, I promise you I am none the worse for it.

In fact, I am better.

Don't jump to a wrong conclusion: I am not a drunk, no matter what my wife might utter as I pour another glass. Far from it. I do not, as a rule, imbibe to the point I am disabled, (exceptions made when it comes to a few favorite hotel lounges in Vegas), nor am I prone to any more foolishness when drinking wine than I exhibit when stone-cold sober (and that, as many of you know, can be quite a lot of foolishness). I am, rather, a dedicated Epicurean: I seek pleasure only so long as it does not cause pain - i.e. I do not like to barf and I am not fond of dehydration, flulike symptoms or oily discharges of any kind.

You woulda done the same thing with the wines in our last shipment.

One of the wines in this last case is from Languedoc. Another is a southern Rhone blend. A third is from Provence, a fourth a Vaucluse. Then, there's a Cahors, all inky good Malbec. And all, except perhaps the wine from Provence, certifiable winter drink - hearty enough to stand up to the conditions that loom in proximity to the colder solstice. No punky rosé here, nope. And, definitely, no whites.

Or should I say, for the sake of accuracy, there was a Languedoc, a Vaucluse, a southern Rhone blend, a vins de pays from Provence and a Cahors, all inky good.

They're gone now. Long gone,

The key to this rampage: Each wine was consumed with something to eat. Or, I should say, something else to eat. Remember, wine is food and we like to eat, don't we?

And that something else, in every case, was compatible with the wine. There's a lot of room to work when pairing these reds with different dishes but, still, a certain caution must be exercised.

A glass of wine is part of a meal, plain and simple. And a meal without a glass of wine (or two, or so) is incomplete, thin. When I omit wine from a meal - due to unavoidable circumstance or out of respect for those who do not indulge - I am unfulfilled, regardless of the quality of the food.

Wine is food. And can be, and should often be, used in cooking, as an ingredient.

I am convinced wine is a separate food group, with its rightful place in one of those food pyramids produced by nutritional scientists at major state universities - the folks who wear white lab coats and do presentations at elementary schools.

Just ask one of these geeks about wine and he or she will tell you: "Yes, science has established that wine is a separate food group and here, look, (he or she uses a pointer), here it is at the top of the pyramid, just above another key food group - macaroni and cheese."

The trick: Match the food group with something tasty, something in harmony with the nature of the wine.

The Languedoc? A cassoulet, perhaps?

The Cahors? Bring a heavyweight into the ring, something big and beefy. Steak au poivre?

The Vaucluse? Oh, heck, just about anything this side of mild fish, if you're drinking the beauty from Domaine de Durban that I polished off - a mighty fine blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre. (Make a note: I need more.)

I am thinking today, however, about that wine from Provence. It is not a pedal-to-the-metal winter drinker, like the others, but it can be used for and in something appropriate to the season and, as a result, can combine with that dish to do the trick even when the snow falls.

The wine: Proteus. Nice, but, as I said, a touch on the thin side for December. The question is what to do with it, just in case I order several more bottles - and, darn it, that's a distinct possibility.

I'll need two bottles (Make a note: order two bottles) and I'll do a take on Boeuf al la Gordienne, a Provencal dish in Robert Freson's "The Taste of France." Just as easily could whip up Freson's lamb stew with olives, using lamb shanks, onions, garlic, blanched green and black olive, and potatoes. But, with the lamb stew, Kathy would assault me since she refuses to eat anything that had big, dewy eyes and a fluffy white coat.

For the Gordienne, I'll need a pound and a half to two pounds of trimmed beef chuck, cut into inch-and-a-half to two-inch cubes. I need to lay in a supply of unsmoked bacon and cut about a third of a pound into half-inch cubes. I'll chop several shallots. The real thing calls for a calf's foot, split and blanched, but I am in no mood to find a calf and remove one of its feet, so I'll skip this ingredient.

The beef gets marinated overnight in a large Ziplock bag, and is turned a few times during the process. The marinade: a bottle of the wine, about three-quarters of a cup of high-grade red wine vinegar, a couple white onions, sliced, several carrots, peeled and sliced thin, three or four cloves of garlic peeled and demolished, some crumbles of dry herbs - oregano, thyme, the like - and a bouquet garni with a hunk of orange peel, some parsley stems, a hunk of celery, a bay leaf, some fresh herbs, all tied into a neat little bundle.

An hour or so before cooking time, the meat is removed from the marinade, patted dry and left to come to room temp. The veggies are strained from the marinade and the marinade is set aside.

Extra-virgin olive oil and the bacon cubes are sauteed in a casserole. In go the shallots and, when the bacon starts to give up the greasy goodies, the lardons and shallots are removed and in go the cubes of beef, which are browned on all sides. The onions, carrots and garlic from the marinade go into the pot next and are cooked until they begin to caramelize. Then, last, the bouquet garni is plopped into the pot with the lardons and shallots and marinade and, if necessary, more wine is added to cover the beef. A bit of salt, a bit of freshly ground black pepper goes in while the mix is brought back to a simmer. (I think this also calls for a teaspoon or so of Espanola red, but, that's just me and it certainly has nothing to do with a classic Provencal dish). Then the casserole is covered and transferred to a 325 oven where the mix cooks for about three hours, checked periodically in case more liquid needs to be added. When the meat is done (as in fork tender plus), out comes the bouquet garni and the fat is skimmed from the surface of the braising liquid. Seasonings are adjusted.

What to serve with it?

Ahh, no problem. Do it a la Provencal: serve it with al dente, thin penne, buttered and dusted with fresh-grated parmesan. Put the sauce on the pasta and pop the mess into a hot oven for a few minutes before partnering with the meat.

And a lot of the same wine used in the dish.


Which I intend to order tomorrow. Along with a few bottles of Cahors, a couple bottles of that tasty Languedoc and a Pigeoulet en Provence from the legendary Bruniers Freres.

The same guys who produced the last bottle in my final order - the unopened bottle.

It's no everyday drinker, and it's not cheap.

It's a bottle of Vieux Telegraphe, a Mac Daddy Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This bruiser will wait in the cool dark for a special occasion.

At present, I have no idea what that occasion might be but, come to think of it, depending on my mood, the right occasion could be the fact I am home and near a bottle of Vieux Telegraphe.

After all wine is food.

And man must eat.


Extension Viewpoints

Test your home for radon, mitigate if necessary

By Bill Nobles

SUN Columnist

Dec. 7 - 7 p.m., Shady Pine Club meeting.

Dec. 8 - 2:15 p.m., Wolf Creek Wonders Club meeting.

Dec. 11 - 6:30 p.m., Entomology Project meeting.

Dec. 12 - 4 p.m., Jr. Stockman Club meeting.

Dec. 12 - 6 p.m., Rocky Mountain Riders Club meeting.

Dec. 13 - 6:30 p.m., Pagosa Peaks Club meeting.

Radon - a risk for lung cancer

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas emitted from uranium, a naturally occurring mineral in rocks and soil. Normally, radon rises up through the soil and dissipates in the air outside. Radon becomes a concern when it seeps through openings such as cracks, loose fitting pipes, sump pits, dirt floors, slab joints or block walls and accumulates in the home. Air pressure inside the home is usually lower than pressure in the soil around the house's foundation. Because of this difference, the house acts like a vacuum, drawing radon in through foundation cracks and other openings.

Radon has been identified as a risk factor in developing lung cancer because it decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in the lungs. These particles release bursts of energy that damages lung tissue. It is estimated that radon may be associated with 3,000 to 32,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States, second only to smoking. The chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend on how much radon is in the home, the amount of time spent in the home and whether a person smokes. Smoking, combined with radon, adds to the health risk.

All homes in Colorado should be tested for radon. Only individual testing can determine which houses may have a radon problem. You cannot base your radon level on a neighbor's test result. Every house is different. Measuring radon levels in the home is simple and inexpensive. Test kits include complete instructions and return postage for mailing samples back to the lab for analysis. Radon test kits cost range from $15 to $40. Research indicates some homeowners buy kits and then never send the samples in for the results. When you buy a kit make a commitment to obtain the results. Instructions are specific as to placement and the importance of not disturbing the test kit while it is monitoring the radon level of a home. The cost of repairs to reduce radon depends on how the home was built and the extent of the radon problem. Most homes can be fixed for $500 to $2,500.

When choosing the mitigation method, consider the radon levels, system operation, structural changes, cost, house size and foundation types. For houses with several foundation designs and levels, a combination of techniques may be needed.

- Keep windows open on both sides of the lower floor of your house when possible.

- Ventilate crawlspaces under your house.

- Open basement windows early in the spring and keep them open when possible until late fall.

- Seal cracks in basement floors with polyurethane caulking compound.

- Pour water in floor drains once a month to make certain that traps do not dry out.

- Keep stairwell doors, fireplace dampers, and laundry chute doors closed when not in use; keeping them open can suck air from the basement into the living area of the house.

For more information about testing and mitigation, contact the Archuleta County Cooperative Extension office at 264-5931.


Pagosa Lakes News

New fishing regulations in effect in 2007

By Ming Steen

SUN Columnist

Recreation center memberships and fishing permits for next year will be available at the center starting Monday, Dec. 18.

I encourage you to get one of both for the family as part of your holiday season gift giving. It's a gift that lasts all year and reaps benefits of health, shared family time and relaxation.

Renters who rent in Pagosa Lakes are eligible for purchase of membership and fishing licenses at property owner rates. A copy of both the lease and utility bill are required at time of purchase.

The recreation center will close early tomorrow, at 4:30 p.m., for the annual PLPOA staff holiday dinner. While some folks are still trying to turn turkey into muscle, ham and eggnog is being served.

Fishing regulations

The Lakes, Fisheries and Parks Committee, a standing committee of the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, has recommended a special fishing regulation for Hatcher Lake.

This special regulation involves switching to artificial flies and lures only at Hatcher Lake.

The committee also proposed a reduced bag limit. This idea is intended to enhance the fishery at the lake by promoting catch and release, thereby increasing the number of large fish in the lake. This regulation will increase the odds of catching a "lunker," or trophy type fish.

The committee conducted a property owner's survey, which was sent out in the summer 2005 newsletter, and held public meetings to discuss the idea. The board reviewed the proposal and accepted the recommendation from the committee. The special fishing regulation will be implemented at Hatcher Lake on a trial basis during 2007, and will be reviewed on an annual basis.

The newly adopted regulation for Hatcher Lake reads as follows: "Beginning January 1, 2007: Fishing methods for all anglers at Hatcher Lake will be with artificial flies and lures only and that it be highly recommended (but not required), that all hooks be barbless; That the daily bag limit for Hatcher Lake be established as 1 bass or 1 trout daily per angler; That children 12 years and under still be allowed to use baited hooks; That the bait rule be lifted for all anglers during the winter ice-fishing season, allowing fishermen to use baits while ice fishing (encouraging perch harvest)."

The new regulation requires that fishing methods at Hatcher Lake be with flies and lures only. This includes flies of any type, spinners and cranks, plastic lures, jigs and other similar lures. It also reduces the bag limit from three trout and two bass per day per angler to one trout OR one bass daily. The bag limits in the other three lakes (Village Lake, Lake Pagosa and Lake Forest) will remain the same as they have been. If you have filled out your limit of one trout OR one bass at Hatcher, you can drop down to one of the lower three lakes and catch two more trout and one additional bass to fill your limit. The limit for the lower lakes is three trout and two bass, just as it was previously, and baits are still allowed in the lower three lakes. This will be detailed in the new Lake Regulation handout you will receive when you purchase your 2007 fishing permit. There will be new signs posted at Hatcher Lake describing the new regulations.

The new regulation prohibits bait fishing by adult anglers at Hatcher Lake only. Bait fishing can be pretty hard on fish and makes it more difficult to make a live release. No baits, such as Power Bait, worms, salmon eggs, marshmallows etc. will be allowed. Children 12 years and under will still be allowed to use these types of baits as we understand that it can be difficult for children to fish successfully without the use of baits. The limit for children is still the one trout or one bass at Hatcher Lake. The bait rule for everyone will be lifted during the winter ice fishing season, encouraging the harvest of yellow perch, since perch are in a state of overpopulation in Hatcher Lake. Many ice anglers use baits in the winter months but the chance of "gut hooking" a fish reduces in the wintertime due to the slower action of fish. You are encouraged to keep all perch you catch. To reduce the perch population, do not return any perch to the lakes. Give them to your friends and neighbors; they are an excellent eating fish.

This regulation is intended to help ensure that many more trout and bass stay in the lake. The Pagosa Lakes area has been growing so rapidly and increased fishing pressure on the lakes has made it challenging to keep satisfactory numbers of trout and bass in the lakes, especially in light of the fact that the cost of fish has nearly doubled over the past nine years. There is no doubt that most of the trout stocked in the lakes are gone by mid to late summer.

If the new program continues into the future, it will allow for more bass and trout to be stocked into the lower lakes and reduce the needs at Hatcher Lake. The regulation will also have an added side benefit of keeping many of the larger predator fish (such as brown trout and bass) in the lake to help control yellow perch. It is also hoped that it will encourage new anglers to appreciate the merits of catch-and-release type fishing and may be an opportunity to learn how to fish with alternative methods. There has been discussion of having fly fishing instruction for interested owners at Hatcher Lake next summer. Stay tuned for more information on this.

This regulation will be reviewed on an annual basis and property owner feedback will be a driving force in future decisions. If you have comments or concerns, let us know what you're thinking. We can be contacted by e-mail at or by letter at 230 Port Ave., Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

One last change to the fishing rules and regulations for 2007 deals with fishing hours. Since the association acquired the lakes in 1992, the fishing hours for Lake Forest, Lake Pagosa and Hatcher Lake have been from one hour before sunrise until dark. At Village Lake fishing hours were extended to midnight. This was presumably to allow for nighttime angling for catfish. However, there have been complaints from nearby residents about late-night fishing and the loud activities associated with it. It is also very difficult to enforce fishing regulations after hours and late at night. As we have grown and the lake has become surrounded by homes, the midnight fishing hours has become problematic. In light of this, fishing hours for all lakes will be one hour before sunrise until dark, beginning in 2007.

One other item the board is considering is a boat registration program where all boats must be registered before use on the four association lakes. This is in response to concerns about liability and boating safety on the lakes. The board will review the proposal at its December meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13.


 Business News

Chamber News

It's time to Perk up Pagosa

By Mary Jo Coulehan

SUN Columnist

First off, a very big "thank you" to all the merchants who participated in last Saturday's Parade of Stores. And thanks go to the shoppers in Pagosa for keeping your dollars here, visiting a new store or expanding your shopping repertoire.

There were those shoppers intent on getting their cards stamped to qualify for the many prizes. I also saw quite a few shopping bags hanging on the arms of dedicated local shoppers.

Hopefully, many folks visited stores they have never been to and even if they didn't buy anything on Dec. 2, they saw items they can purchase later this month or at some other time in the future.

Comments from shoppers and merchants are valuable to us at the Chamber, since we hope to continue this first Saturday in December shopping day next year. Who knows, we might add a day or two to the schedule!

Speaking of shopping, it is again time for us to remind you about Pagosa Perks.

These terrific shopping dollars are available only at the Chamber of Commerce. The Perks are used just like cash at any local business that is a Chamber member. Even some nonmembers accept Pagosa Perks because it is cash in their hands.

Perks can be used to buy groceries, gifts, or even pay utilities. Pagosa Perks make great gifts for anyone: employees, bosses, teachers, teenagers and friends. The recipient can use the dollars to buy the services or gifts they want. You can give a lovely gift this holiday season, but perhaps what the recipient wants is to pay their water or electric bills, or buy some food items to provide their family a nice holiday meal, - or even treat themselves and guests to a nice dinner out on the town.

Merchants: you can accept Perks and treat them as you would cash or a traveler's check. List them in your deposit just like a traveler's check and, if need be, change can be given back to the shopper. Pagosa Perks are guaranteed! The best part of this program is that your dollars stay here in Pagosa. By using Perks, you support local business and you keep the commerce circulating in your community.

So, give this thoughtful and useful gift. Pagosa Perks come in $20 and $10 denominations. Stop by the Chamber, or call ahead if you have a large number to order, and we will have them ready for you. Perks can be acquired all year long, but are particularly popular during the holidays. Purchasers or merchants with questions can call us at the Chamber at 264-2360.

Festival of Trees

It's time to deck the halls - and if not the halls, then your home or business - with a beautiful tree acquired at the first-ever Festival of Trees auction.

This event will be hosted by the community center and will benefit numerous non-profit agencies.

Here is how the festival works: Individuals or non-profit agencies provided and decorated their trees Dec. 4 and 5. The tree display at the center is open to the public through Dec. 8.

At 6 p.m. Dec. 8 the bidding will begin. Tickets for the event are $15 and can be purchased at the community center. While at the event, you can partake of sumptuous hors d'oeuvres and desserts provided by Wildflower Catering, and be entertained by John Graves. The sponsor of each tree will determine which activity or non-profit agency will reap the rewards of the auction purchase.

Don't miss this first-time event as we bring the Festival of Trees to life in Pagosa.

Community Choir concert

This time of year gives us chances to enjoy many of our local entertainment groups, and the Community Choir holiday concert is an event we look forward to. Talented singers will delight the audience at the high school auditorium at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 16, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17. The concert is free. This event shows off our local talent, so don't miss out.

December SunDowner

Due to the holidays, the Chamber SunDowner in December has been moved to Wednesday, Dec. 13.

This month's Business After Hours will be held at Pagosa Photography, Pagosa Skin Therapy and Wild Spirit Gallery, located across the street from the county courthouse.

Chamber members and invited guests will enjoy delicious food and beverages. It's not too late to do some shopping at either studio, check out the cool clothing at Pagosa Skin Therapy, or purchase a gift certificate for one of Laura's fabulous skin treatments. If you are a Chamber member and did not receive your monthly invitation, please let us know and we will verify your address.

A reminder: There will not be a SunDowner in January due to the Chamber's annual meeting. This year's meeting will be held Saturday, Jan. 20, at the community center. The theme will be western and after a tasty dinner we will honor the winners of the Citizen and Volunteer of the Year awards, then dance to the rockin' tunes of the High Rollers.

We look to have a great time at both events, so mark your calendars for the early SunDowner and the annual meeting.

Shy Rabbit exhibit

A new exhibit opens at Shy Rabbit Dec. 9. This show is titled "Hold It!" and features examples of contemporary containers created with wood, fiber, ceramics, and mixed media. The artists' reception will be 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at the gallery. The exhibit will continue until Jan. 20. Call Shy Rabbit at 731-2766 for more information about gallery hours.

Business salutes

We need to note some Chamber member success stories and events.

First, congratulations to the Stevens Field airport for being lauded as an "outstanding airport" in Colorado. At its Nov. 4 meeting, the Colorado Pilots Association presented awards to two Colorado airports - Harriet Alexander Field in Salida and Stevens Field in Pagosa Springs - for exceptional service and facilities for general aviation. Stevens Field was recognized for the efforts over the past three years to revitalize the airport through a major construction program that converted the airport into one of the more outstanding facilities serving Colorado mountain recreational areas. The field was also recognized for the professionalism and friendliness enjoyed by local pilots and for serving as an enticement for visitors to the area. Congratulations to the county, the airport advisory board, airport manager George Barter, and all who have helped build this airport into a recognized facility.

One of our new members this week is located in the Country Center on the west side of town - the new UPS store. Chris and Anna Dennis have opened up this packing, mailing and much-more store. The UPS store packs and ships, provides packaging and moving supplies, and offers office services such as faxing, printing, copying and finishing services. They also offer notary services and just before you seal that box to ship, you can purchase a greeting card to slip into your gift. The UPS store also has mailbox services. For more information, stop by the store in Suite B or call 731-8771.

We also welcome Edelweiss Needlework Chalet, located at the corner of 4th Street and U.S. 160 - new to the Chamber fold. Shirley Brinkmann provides a plethora of fabric design necessities. Her store carries goods for quilting, needlepoint, knitting, crocheting, cross stitch and stitchery. She has yarns, fabric, notions, needles for various crafts, and many other supplies for the fabric designer. Shirley also offers an array of classes. If you have seen her quilts on display, you know that Edelweiss is one of the top places to go in this community for quilting related goods and advice. Stop by this pleasant store or give Shirley a call at 264-3233 if you need answers to your fabric and yarn questions.

Not a new member but adding another facility to their lodging repertoire, we welcome back the Lynch/Cloman combination and The Yellow House. This delightful facility is in town, sleeps eight with three bedrooms and three full baths, has a full kitchen Jacuzzi tub, washer-dryer, and two big-screen TVs with satellite. Close to shopping, the hot springs and restaurants, this facility is a must for someone that wants to experience the town of Pagosa. For reservations, call 749-4957.

Also not really new, but new to this side of the pass, Wolf Creek Anglers (based in South Fork) joins the Chamber. They have taken over the snowmobile service for Wolf Creek Outfitters and they will be running snowmobiles out of Pagosa at the Fly Shop on Pagosa Street and out of South Fork. They are also known for their great fishing shop and guide services. We welcome Mike McCormick and his crew and wish them a fast and furious snowmobile season. Call (719) 873-1414.

Another lodging facility to mention this week is Divot Place Guest House with Michael and Susan Garman. This log home sleeps 8-10 people, has all the comforts of home, and is right on the golf course. If you're having a hard time finding cabins and homes this holiday season, reserve your space now. Call 731-2485 for reservations.

We welcome back Adventure Real Estate; Navajo State Park; and the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs and the Humane Society Thrift Store.

Associate member renewals include JoAnn Laird with Galles Properties Real Estate, and a past Chamber board member, Andy Donlon. Andy is always good for advice, suggestions and knowledge on the community.

We welcome our new members and, of course, thank our renewals for their continued membership.

As the holidays approach with the overabundance of parties and events, enjoy your time with family and friends, and the wonderful snowy weather we have been blessed with this year. Most important, be safe.

Let it snow!


Businesses urged to enter lighting contest

By Mary Jo Coulehan

Special to The SUN

Deck the halls, the eaves, the trees or any other part of your business and enter the 2006 Business Lighting Contest.

Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15-16, volunteers will travel around town judging the businesses that have entered the contest.

Judging will be based not only on the number of lights displayed but on creativity and overall effect as well.

In order to win, you must enter the contest. Application forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center. You can e-mail your entry to us with your business name, location, contact person and phone number, or we can fax you an entry form. All applications must be in by Thursday, Dec. 14.

There will be a first-place cash prize of $750; second place is $500, third place is $300. There will also be numerous honorable mention cash awards.

This contest would not take place without the generous sponsorship of Colorado Dream Homes, which moved contest sponsorship from the residential to the business sector this year.

We are pleased to offer this wonderful incentive to businesses as they help light up the town.

For more information or to receive an application, contact the Chamber at 264-2360, or fax us your information at 264-4625. We look forward to the judging and to announcing the lighting contest winners.



Cards of Thanks


I would like to thank the Upper San Juan Search and Rescue and Mounted Rescue organizations for rescuing my husband, Les Shepard, when he fell while hiking Toner Peak with his climbing buddies. Thanks to fellow hikers Terry Baker, Dr. John Sanders and Tim Hewitt, for the extraordinary care and assistance they gave Les while waiting for help.

When they got the call, Emergency Operations Director Greg Oertel, search and rescue members Tim Schreyer and Cody Reginier, mounted rescue members Ian Vowles, Leo Milner, Mark Golde, Joe Bigley, Diane Bigley, Tom Bruekner and Tommy Gaskins, off-duty deputy Brandon Bishop and Jeremy Oertel, home on a short leave from the Marines, dropped everything to spend the next nine hours carrying Les back down the mountain.

Les and I want to thank these wonderful people for the great efforts they expended on his behalf.

Nancy Shepard


Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge would like to thank City Market and Ginger Redden for the fresh flowers; Lori Sofer for the crafts and gifts she donated; Lili Pearson for the photo shoot she provided; Dick and Kathy Hamilton for all their help; Teri Smith and her Girl Scout troops; Pagosa Piecemakers for the quilts they donated; Chris Figliolino for the Christmas decorations; the Music Boosters for all your help and entertainment; and Gladys at the Methodist Thrift Store for the Christmas tree. Thank you all so much for everything you've done and continue to do for us - it is greatly appreciated.

Mary Ann Martinez


Music Boosters

Pagosa Springs Music Boosters would like to thank everyone for their continuing support of our musical productions, most recently "Nuncrackers!" We especially thank the Morrisons, Sherry Neil, Sue and Ray Diffee, our families, our musicians, our seamstresses, Dan Rohers, Brad Iverson, Patrick Ford, the nuns, the father, the kids and all of the wonderful folks in town who took part in our audience of laughter! Music Boosters turns its profits back into their college scholarships and our public schools' music, drama and performing arts programs.



A huge thank you to Biz Greene for all her time and effort in arranging a very interesting and diverse first series of the Lifelong Living Lectures.

Also thank you to the local and Fort Lewis lecturers - they were terrific.

Last, but definitely not least, thank you to the library for hosting these lectures.

Looking forward to the next series in the spring.

Patricia Waters


Women's Club

Members of the Pagosa Women's Club would like to acknowledge Mary Webb for all her hard work, dedication and wonderful spirit that she always brings to our club. Thank you, Mary.


Music Boosters

Pagosa Springs Music Boosters would like to thank everyone for their continuing support of our musical productions, most recently "Nuncrackers!" We especially thank the Morrisons, Sherry Neil, Sue and Ray Diffee, our families, our musicians, our seamstresses, Dan Rohers, Brad Iverson, Patrick Ford, the nuns, the father, the kids and all of the wonderful folks in town who took part in our audience of laughter! Music Boosters turns its profits back into their college scholarships and our public schools' music, drama and performing arts programs.


Sports Page

Pirate girls win one, lose one to start schedule

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Pirate girls' basketball broke even in games last weekend in the Arkansas River Valley - winning 51-27 over Buena Vista Friday and losing 70-54 Saturday to Salida.

The Pirates got off to an early lead against Buena Vista and were then able to settle into a successful man-to-man defense, which hampered the Demons for the rest of the game.

The Pirates put 17 points on the board in the first quarter, in a quick start, then continued to convert throughout the game - scoring 10 in the second, 11 in the third and 13 in the fourth.

Coach Bob Lynch said his three seniors "played well, all over the place," during the Buena Vista game.

Forward Kristen DuCharme led the team with 16 points (six coming from the free throw line), eight rebounds and five steals.

Jessica Lynch finished with 15 points (three, three-pointers) and three assists from the point guard position, while guard Lyndsey Mackey led the team with four assists and put in seven points.

The Pirates came out with less speed and consistency in their game against Salida Saturday, though one less swing in momentum would have given them the victory.

After three, three-pointers and a free throw, Salida jumped to a 10-0 lead at the beginning of the first quarter, before Coach Lynch could call a timeout.

But the Pirates came back by intermission, closing the half with a 27-22 lead. The lead was expanded to 12 points late in the third quarter.

However, according to Coach Lynch, foul trouble, a streak of bad shooting and a Salida hot streak put the Spartans ahead again, and they would maintain their lead for the rest of the game.

Jessica Lynch and Mackey both finished the game with four fouls, while junior Tamara Gayhart fouled out with five. The foul trouble made the team play more conservatively, in an attempt to keep their starters in the game.

If not for Salida free throws and three-pointers, the Pirates would have won the game. Pagosa netted 17 two-pointers, compared to 14 for Salida; but the Spartans took the upper hand making 24 out of 36 free throws (versus 11 out of 19 for Pagosa) and six three-pointers (compared to the three from Pirate Jessica Lynch).

Coach Lynch was not overly worried by the performance, saying his team was fatigued after the game the day before, but he said the game did "show a little bit of a need to grow up as a team."

He went on to point out that the Pirates scored about the same as they did in their game against Buena Vista, actually increasing their total by three. Salida simply managed to put more points on the board by attacking the Pirates' zone defense, and a swing in momentum to their favor.

Salida was led by freshman post Sammi Gentile, who scored 28 points on the day.

Senior Jessica Lynch led the Pirates with 17 points, including three, three-pointers, but Coach Lynch gave particular notice to his starting juniors, who showed impressive play despite the loss.

Camille Rand finished with 11 points and three assists against Salida. Against Buena Vista, she was second in the team with seven boards.

Gayhart dominated at post with five blocks against Salida (and four against Buena Vista), while scoring eight points against the Spartans. "She defended like crazy," said Lynch.

Sophomore Allison Hart also showed strong play off the bench during the road stint, scoring nine against Buena Vista and five against Salida, with seven rebounds between the two games.

The Pirates' goal for this week of practices is to "keep getting sharper," said Coach Lynch.

We will be able to see their success this weekend, when the Pirates will have their first home games in the Wolf Creek Classic - a round robin tournament between four teams, including Buena Vista, Cortez and Gunnison.

The girls will tip off against Gunnison at 6:30 p.m. Friday night.

Ticket prices this year have been raised to $4 for adults and $3 for youth.


Pirate wrestling: A core and some questions

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

Let the battles begin.

The 2006-2007 wrestling season starts Saturday for members of the Pirate wrestling team as they travel to compete in the Buena Vista Invitational - a dual-meet format event featuring several top-quality Class 3A teams.

Pagosa will be among 10 teams at the tournament. Others at the event, besides the Pirates and the host Demons, will be Centauri, Del Norte, St. Mary's of Colorado Springs, Lake County, Salida, Middle Park, 4A Glenwood Springs and Florence.

The Huskies, from Florence, could be one of the better 3A teams the Pirates will see this year. Florence returns most of last year's team and is expected to be a contender in the region this season.

As for the Pirates, this tournament, and likely most competitions prior to qualifying action at season's end, will be marked by the efforts of a core of tested wrestlers battling for places in the state tournament, and a whole lot of questions.

Such as who, other than several veterans, will make the progress necessary to create what Coach Dan Janowsky predicts could be a good tournament team by the time of the state meet in Denver.

"We can turn out to be a top-ten state tournament team," said Janowsky. "And that's where we'll keep our focus. We'll work to develop our younger kids, improving them technically and boosting their physical level."

The Pirates have a core around which to build, with few if any seniors on the roster.

Three juniors will occupy slots in the upper weight classes. Pat Ford is expected to go at 160 pounds, Caleb Burggraaf at 171 and Joe Hausotter at heavyweight.

"In terms of our region," said Janowsky, "opportunities are open for each of these guys, if they work hard."

Sophomores provide much of the core the Pirates will rely on.

Steven Smith finished fifth at regionals last season as a freshman, at 103 - in a certifiably tough bracket. Smith moves up this year to 112. "Steven has put in a lot of time working to get stronger," said the coach.

Sophomore Joe DuCharme went to the Class 3A state tourney last season at 130. He makes a big jump up in weight this year, to 145, but, according to Janowsky, DuCharme "has picked up the kind of strength you need to make that jump."

Mike Smith also makes a big step up in weight class. Last year, as a freshman, Smith competed at state at 135. Chances are good he will fight at 152 this year.

"All three of these guys gained strength," said Janowsky, "as well as overall athleticism. And they've been showing some impressive maturity in the wrestling room. They, along with our three juniors, are at the heart of this team."

Janowsky also singled out sophomore Cole Mastin, who could fight at 119. "Cole has stepped it up a lot."

Caleb Pringle saw some time last year at 119. "Caleb has a shot at one-thirty," said the coach.

"We also have some freshmen who are working hard," said Janowsky, "and they're making things interesting at practice. We'll see what happens in competition."

Following the opener at Buena Vista, the Pirates have several days of practice before they make the trip over Red Mountain Pass to wrestle at the Warrior Classic in Grand Junction, Dec. 15 and 16.


Free cross country ski clinic at Wolf Creek Ski Area

Wolf Creek Ski Area and the Alpen Haus Ski Center celebrate 30 years of cross country skiing at Wolf Creek by jointly hosting a free early season learn to cross country ski clinic this Sunday, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m.

Classic cross country lessons will be offered at all levels. Arrive early and go to the end of the Alberta parking lot. Lessons will be held in the area above Alberta Park.

Following the lessons will be a noncompetitive relay.

For more information or if you need rental equipment, contact Wolf Creek or the Alpen Haus.


Pirates open season with two road wins

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Pirate boys' basketball pulled in two victories last weekend against Buena Vista and Salida, winning in overtime 58-51 against the Demons and handily defeating the Spartans 54-23, maintaining a ranking of sixth place in the state.

Friday's game against Buena Vista started at a fast pace, with both teams pushing the ball down the court. Pagosa won the first and second quarters 17-16 and 17-14.

By comparison, the second half went in Buena Vista's favor, with the reduced point totals of 12-10 in the third and 9-7 in the fourth.

"As the game went on, people got more patient," said Coach Jim Shaffer. Teams settled into half-court offenses, which limited the Pirates' ability to go with their first inclination - to run the ball.

Though Pirate point totals were reduced by the slower game, they did a better job on defense in the second half, to keep the game even, said Shaffer.

Pagosa did "a pretty good job attacking" the Buena Vista zone, and they showed good ball control, keeping possession for almost the last two minutes of play, as they tried to get the go-ahead score.

The Pirates did not score to win it in regulation, but they shut out Buena Vista in the four-minute overtime, scoring seven points themselves, to win the game 58-51.

Shaffer cited foul trouble as a primary difficulty in the game. James Martinez, who started the game at forward, fouled out and post Caleb Ormonde ended the game with four. Because of the fouls, Ormonde was only able to play in just over half of the game, limiting his scoring contribution to seven points - though he did pull in the most rebounds for the team at seven.

Adam Trujillo led the Pirates with 15 points, going seven for 13 from the floor, and four steals. Shaffer also acknowledged the strong contribution of Spur Ross, who came off the bench to score 10 points, along with Casey Hart, who had six points and five rebounds.

Shaffer was also impressed by the play of point guard Kerry Joe Hilsabeck and big guard Jordan Shaffer. Both played the whole game. Hilsabeck finished the game with seven points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Shaffer converted for nine points, six rebounds (including four on offense), five assists and three steals.

The Salida game Saturday was an "ugly game" without "any flow to it," said Shaffer, but it proved an easy victory for the Pirates, as they nearly doubled the Spartans' score, 54-23.

Like Buena Vista, Salida was patient on offense and slowed the game down. But the measured play did not help Salida, since the Pirates "played really good defense" according to Shaffer. The Pirates doubled Salida's point totals in the first quarter, 16-8; shut Salida out in the second, 7-0; expanded their lead in the third, scoring 15 to the Spartans' 10; and more than tripled Salida's score in the fourth, 16-5.

Coach Shaffer said his team pushed it every possession. Salida's zone defense could not hold up.

Against Salida, the Pirates again had strong play from their guards - Shaffer with eight points, five rebounds and two blocks, and Hilsabeck with seven rebounds and five assists (which led the team), along with four steals.

Ormonde led the Pirates with 14 points, six for 11 from the floor, while pulling down five rebounds and strong-arming two blocks. Ormonde scored six of the team's first eight points, including two with a two-handed dunk after a rebound.

Adam Trujillo led the team with five steals and four blocks.

This weekend, the boys will come home to play in the Wolf Creek Classic. The boys' tournament will have a bracket structure, with the winners of the first round going on to play for the championship. An additional game will be included between first and final rounds, which will not be counted for tournament play, though it will be included in season totals.

The Pirates will begin play at 8:15 p.m. Friday against Gunnison. If they win, they will likely face 4A Battle Mountain in the Championship round Saturday. Battle Mountain plays Buena Vista in the first round.

Shaffer warned not to discount Buena Vista. They have a good coach, he said, and could surprise the field.

Maybe the Demons will get another chance at the Pirates in the Wolf Creek Classic championship game.

Admission to Pirate basketball games was raised this year to $4 for adults and $3 for youth.


Pagosa Springs Recreation

Elks Club Hoop Shoot slated for Dec. 16

By Tom Carosello

SUN Columnist

The 2006 Elks Club Hoop Shoot will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, in the community center gymnasium.

The event is a free-throw shooting contest sponsored by the Durango Elks Club and is free for boys and girls ages 8-13. All participants may sign up at the community center the day of the event.

Over 3,000,000 of America's youth participate in the Hoop Shoot each year, with winners in local contests earning the right to advance to district, state, regional and national contests. National winners' names are inscribed on a plaque at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Boys and girls compete separately in the following age categories: 8/9 (age 7 is fine if the youngster will be 8 before April 1, 2007), 10/11 and 12/13. Youngsters are too old to participate if they will be 14 before April 1, 2007.

Qualification and category assignment are determined by a participant's age as of April 1, 2007. All age groups will shoot free throws on regulation, 10-foot rims.

For more information, call the recreation office at 264-4151, Ext. 232.

Registration ends Dec. 15

Due to tight constraints on the amount of available gym time at the community center and junior high school this winter, the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department staff has decided that the 9/10 and 11/12 youth basketball leagues will remain coed for this year.

The department will accept registrations for the 9/10 and 11/12 divisions through Dec. 15. Any child who will be 9, 10, 11 or 12 years of age as of Jan. 1, 2007, is eligible to register. The seasons for these divisions will not begin until January.

Registrations are available at the recreation office and are also be available online in Adobe format at (click on the town departments link, then the parks and recreation link). Registrations will also be disbursed at local schools.

Cost is $25 per player and $15 for each additional child in the same, immediate family who participates.

Coaches and team sponsors for these divisions are needed and appreciated. Cost for sponsorship is $150, which includes sponsor's name on team uniforms, commemorative plaque with team picture and recognition in media articles.

For more information call 264-4151, Ext. 231 or 232.

Youth basketball

The schedule for the final week of 7-8 youth basketball at the community center is as follows:

- Dec. 12 - Purple vs. Forest at 5:30 p.m., Orange vs. Black at 6:20 p.m. and Red vs. Royal at 7:10 p.m.

- Dec. 14 - Black vs. Royal at 5:30 p.m., Forest vs. Red at 6:20 p.m. and Orange vs. Purple at 7:10 p.m.

Coaches and parents are reminded that water is permitted on the sidelines during games, however all other snacks and drinks are prohibited in the community center gymnasium. Please distribute all postgame snacks in the lobby or in the parking lot.

Also, the community center staff would like to remind parents that children are not permitted to roam unattended through the halls or restrooms of the community center at any time.

Please ensure that children are accompanied by an adult at all times if they must leave the gymnasium during games or practices. Thank you for your cooperation.

Adult volleyball canceled

Adult volleyball (open gym), formerly held Mondays from 6:30 -8:15 p.m. at Pagosa Springs Junior High School, has been canceled due to lack of interest.

Sports hotline

General information concerning the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department can be obtained by calling the Pagosa Springs Sports Hotline at 264-6658 or logging on to and going to the parks and recreation link.

All schedules and upcoming events are updated on a weekly basis. If you have questions or concerns, or need additional information about any of the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department adult or youth sports programs, call 264-4151, Ext. 232.



Spend your money here

It's that time of the year, the holidays, the traditional peak shopping season for many if not most residents of Pagosa Country. And time for the annual "Let's consider where we spend our holiday money and try, when possible, to shop with local merchants" editorial.

There are some readers who, every year, as they read yet another form of this piece, scorn the message, label it a monumental bit of pandering to the local merchant community, designed to coddle advertisers and to induce more business owners to advertise in these pages.

No doubt, there is an element of that here, but only an element and a small one at that. There are better reasons to cheer on the local merchant community, to exhort buyers to patronize local businesses and leave their dollars with their neighbors: the distribution of money in the community and the long-term health of small business in Pagosa Country.

We assume dollars spent with local businesses tend to circulate here, at least for a while. Much of the money we spend at a Pagosa store finds its way, at least in part, to another local consumer at the very least to the business owner, and to his or her employees in the form of salaries. ("In part," if for no other reason, because the imposing, tax collecting paws of local, state and federal government must be filled with their share of the take). Many of the dollars that stay, if the pattern holds, then pass to others and, in part, to other local businesses, and so on. The point: spend the money locally so that some of it remains here. The more times we spend locally, the better.

Second, we believe local shopping strengthens our small business community for a battle certain to take place in the future. Despite attempts by some local residents to prevent the arrival of large chain operations in Pagosa Country, if the community continues to grow, the day will come when "big boxes" in one form or another, compliant with enhanced regulations and restrictions, will find it profitable to establish outposts here. The best defense could be an efficient, responsive small business community - healthy at the outset of the infection - that has fortified its trade in clearly-defined niches. The only way that community can exist is if it is fed with local trade. A keystone in the foundation of that trade is a local shopper dedicated to exploring and patronizing local businesses, and letting those businesses know what is needed.

If a local small businessperson runs a strong, well-managed enterprise and can adapt to circumstance, that enterprise stands a good chance of surviving.

And that is another factor in this situation: A local shopper can be urged to spend money locally, but the local businessperson must be able and willing to provide desired products and services, and at relatively competitive prices. Granted, small business owners will not be able to offer the variety and the lower prices offered by the mega-giant, but most local shoppers will respond to desirable goods and services offered by a friend and neighbor.

The shopper profile in Pagosa Country has changed of late. The change has allowed fast food franchises to enter the market and flourish, while at the same time providing opportunities for new, quality restaurant operations, and likewise will provide consumers for other local businesses facing the arrival of "big" business and franchises. Our small businesses must make the effort and endure the sacrifices needed to capitalize on the situation, with the help of consumers.

With this cooperative relationship, many local small businesses should survive and thrive. And local consumers will obtain an increasingly better array of goods and services close to home, by spending in their home town.

Karl Isberg


Shari Pierce

90 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 8, 1916

J.W. Million and wife of South Fork rode horseback over the highway Tuesday, their destination being the Oscar McCoy ranch. The men are friends of many years standing, though they had not seen each other for nineteen years.

One of the biggest land deals made in Archuleta County in recent years was closed Monday when Commissioner John Swanson and Chas. Hazelwood purchasd from the New Mexico Lumber Company the 1,320 acres of land known as the Yates pasture. The price paid was $3.50 per acre. This splendid tract will be utilized by Messrs. Swanson and Hazelwood in connection with their extensive cattle interests.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 11, 1931

As though we didn't have enough snow on the ground already, it broke loose this week and added about another foot and a half to the heavy previous fall, again making it extremely difficult to get around. With the increased fall we understand that the state highway department has abandoned all efforts to open the Wolf Creek Pass highway in order that the Shields Construction Co. could move its machinery and equipment from Hesperus to the Twin Bridges project on the east side.

Earl Lattin and Homer Smith, who recently narrowly escaped from freezing and starving to death while at work on Wolf Creek Pass, have returned to their homes in Pagosa Springs, where they are now convalescing following a few days spent in a Durango hospital.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 13, 1956

More winter weather the past week has covered the country with enough snow that a white Christmas is almost assured. Here in town there is at present about four inches of snow remaining of the nearly ten that fell. The winter weather also pushed the mercury down to the lowest point of winter to date. A minus 18 degrees was registered on the government thermometer on Sunday morning and a minus 14 on Monday.

A delegation of band parents appeared before the school board to discuss with them the need for new uniforms for the band and to ask that if at all possible this matter be given consideration in the next year's budget. They also discussed with the board various methods of raising money to help buy the uniforms.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 10, 1981

At their regular board meeting December 7, the county commissioners decided to connect the county courthouse to the Pagosa Springs geothermal heating system. Mr. Surles of Pagosa Hills asked why his road wasn't plowed during the last storm. The board asked the road superintendent Joe A. Valdez, who replied a vehicle had been stalled in the roadway. Mr. Surles also asked when the Pagosa Hills roads would be accepted by the county and offered his help as a property owner. Commissioner Chavez told Surles that the roads would be accepted when they were brought up to county standards. The board, at Ruby Archuleta's request, agreed to gravel Montezuma Mesa road as soon as possible.



Kadima Yisrael a congregation, a community

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Pagosa Springs is home to a new spiritual community that celebrates one of the world's most long-standing traditions, and the oldest Abrahamic religion. After years of traveling to Durango, Jews in Pagosa have formed their own congregation - Kadima Yisrael.

The congregation includes 20 families, about 40 members, with anywhere from 15 to 25 attending a single service. Since Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, Kadima Yisrael has been meeting on the first Friday evening of every month, for Sabbath services, and on the various Jewish holidays.

The name, Kadima Yisrael, carries a double meaning: go forward children of God or, alternately, go forward and wrestle with God.

Richard Wholf, one of the congregation's founders, said the writers of the Hebrew bible often utilized complexity of meaning to compel thought and expand understanding. According to Wholf, wrestling with one's own understanding is one of the goals of Kadima Yisrael, in order to come to a better realization of God. Every service is a learning process, he said.

Wholf also said the name recognized the sublime nature of life: "Life is wonderful, life is beautiful, but it is also a struggle, and there are times when you look up and want to say 'why me?' ... but you see that throughout the scripture, you can't always turn everything into something good, but you can try - learning from those who have gone before."

Like their namesake, Israel or Jacob (who wrestled with the angel of the Lord), congregants at Kadima Yisrael do not worship God from afar or with detachment but as his children. And their faith is not abstract, but something to be engaged in - seeing God at work throughout history and in the individual life.

Kadima Yisrael's spiritual leader, Jeff Deitch, said that in the Friday evening Sabbath services the "focus is on Sabbath as a gift ... the opportunity to raise ourselves above the mundane, the workaday world of the other six days ... a gift of rest and peace," which was instituted by the fourth commandment of the decalogue to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

Judy Esterly, cofounder of the congregation, described the Sabbath as a time for Jews to remember their freedom from the toil of slavery.

The Sabbath is brought in by the lighting of candles, which "makes you take a moment to lift the occasion from the mundane world and to make it holy," said Deitch. "You are kindling the light that brings that to mind ... it enlightens your mind to make it a holy day."

At the Sabbath services, Jews and Gentiles in attendance interact in a community, requesting particular prayers or songs and engaging in discussion, even during the sermon.

This democratic setting is all the more interesting since Kadima Yisrael is a diverse congregation. Though it leans toward Conservative Judaism, according to cofounder Judy Esterly, the congregation welcomes Jews in the Orthodox and Reform traditions, as well as people of other faiths who are interested in learning more about Judaism.

According to Esterly, "In a rural community, you have to make room for, welcome, relish, enjoy and appreciate all forms of Judaism ... no one will be turned away."

Esterly described the differences between the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform branches of Judaism as comparable to the differences between Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism and Presbyterianism.

The vitality of the congregation, said Esterly, will be based in large part on its reflection of the diversity of Jewish belief through dialogue.

Despite differences of practice, or even belief, "I want it to be a kissing and a hugging synagogue," she said.

Esterly said community support was integral in the formation of Kadima Yisrael. The Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship agreed to rent the congregation space for meeting, and individuals have stepped in to help with the organizational aspects of forming a new religious community. Most of all the congregation has had the support of non-Jewish spouses. "This is their baby, even though its not their baby," said Esterly.

News of the congregation spread by word of mouth, and Esterly and Wholf even learned of potential congregants from members of the Christian clergy, who knew Jewish Pagosans as neighbors or through community groups.

Wholf said he has heard of previous attempts in Pagosa to start a Jewish congregation, but this is the first time one has found a strong foothold. "I guess it was time," he said.

Up until this fall, Jews in Pagosa have had to make the drive to Durango for holidays and services.

"You never felt like you were a part of the congregation," said Esterly, who cited the difficulties posed by the distance and winter driving conditions.

According to Esterly, "A lot of Judaism is home based," so Jews were still able to practice and celebrate their faith, but both she and Wholf are excited by the recent growth of the local community. The Jewish traditions emphasize the importance of making the spiritual life a part of the home, but they also express the importance of celebrating and worshiping in a larger community.

When Esterly first moved to Pagosa about 10 years ago, she did not realize there were so many Jews in town: "When you move into a small town, you think you are the only one," she said.

In order to find a community, Esterly searched for fellow Jews by doing "Jewish geography" - simply, looking for Jewish names in the phone book. Esterly found a Cohen in Durango and thus heard about Har Shalom. This would be the starting point for discovering many other Jews in Pagosa - though, Esterly pointed out, many had names that were not as easy to pinpoint as Cohen.

Many Jews actually don't have Jewish names, and many names that one might mistake for Jewish are actually not. Surname geography is complicated by the fact that many European immigrants to the U.S. changed their names upon arrival - Cohens may have become Cones, for example, while other Christian immigrants kept their Polish or German or even Scandinavian names (for instance), thus maintaining a foreign sound that might appear Jewish to the untrained ear.

At Har Shalom, which means peaceful mountain, Esterly made the acquaintance of Wholf, as well as Har Shalom cofounder Jeff Deitch. The connection with Deitch proved fruitful for Pagosa. Because the distance to Durango made it difficult for Pagosans to be full members of Har Shalom, Deitch told Esterly he would come to Pagosa to lead services, if Esterly could gather a handful of Jews to participate and find a place where they could meet.

Esterly contacted Wholf, and together they brought together a group of people that far exceeded the four or five Dietch asked for. They arranged to rent the Unitarian facility, and prepared for the high holy days, including Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In all, during the first two weeks of its existence, Kadima Yisrael had five services - and some drew a congregation of nearly 20 participants.

Since then, the congregation has continued to meet every month. Seventeen Pagosans attended Sabbath services on Dec. 1, led by Jon Zissman - who filled in for Deitch.

According to Deitch, 17 is a good turnout on a Friday night for any Jewish community in Pagosa, Durango or even Albuquerque.

Neither Deitch nor Zissman is an ordained rabbi, since they did not attend seminary, but they are both trained in Judaism and Hebrew. Ordained rabbis are not necessary for a Jewish service or congregation, though many Jews believe an ordained rabbi is necessary for a marriage, burial or conversion.

As Esterly puts it, Kadima Yisrael's spiritual leader meets the most important element of being a rabbi - being a learned, informative teacher. Deitch is also a trained cantor, who leads the congregation in singing the prayers.

Kadima Yisrael will celebrate Hanukkah at 2 p.m. on Dec. 17. The eight-day "Festival of Lights" celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucids in the second century BCE, which allowed the Jews to reclaim and purify the Temple.

Kadima Yisrael's next Sabbath service will be on Friday Jan. 5 at the Greenbrier mall off North Pagosa Boulevard.

Every meeting of Kadima Yisrael seeks to encourage a "kissing and hugging" community, while providing connection to God and seeking justice in the world - which is a high priority for the intellectually wrestling children of Israel.


Pagosa's Past

That which was meant to help, in fact hurts

By John M. Motter

SUN Columnist

As one of the major people groups living in Pagosa Country, the Jicarilla Apache have probably overcome more obstacles while establishing a home in this area, than any other people group.

When the Jicarilla returned to their northern New Mexico reservation in 1887, it was understood that they would take their lands in severalty. The following year the Dawes Act passed, authorizing the allotment of land on Indian reservations. For the Jicarilla and many other Indian tribes, this policy created economic hardship and retarded social progress instead of helping them become capable, self-sustaining American citizens as was intended.

On Feb. 8, 1887, three days before the Jicarilla Apache Reservation was set aside by executive order, the Dawes Act formally became law. Its purpose was to accommodate and implement the assimilation of the Indian into the body politic of the nation. Indians were no longer to be treated as half-wards or half-citizens, at least in theory. They were to gain self respect and independence by substituting white Anglo Saxon culture for their tribal customs.

The main provision of the act granted the head of each family 160 acres. Every single person over the age of 18, including orphans, received 40 acres of land. Patents in fee were issued and held in trust by the government for the next 25 years. If a substantial amount of excess land remained after allotment, it was to be returned to the public domain or sold for the benefit of the tribe. This arrangement proved extremely unprofitable for Indians. Millions of acres of Indian land were transferred to white ownership as a result.

In Pagosa Country, the Southern Utes headquartered in Ignacio went through the same process over a period of several years. The result was that much land, for example all of the east-west swath of land including Arboles, Allison, Tiffany, etc., was treated as "left over" and returned to the public domain. A land rush was held and the land passed into white ownership.

The allotment of lands was carried out on the Jicarilla Reservation by a small supervisory agency staff. As a preliminary step in this process, a survey of the entire reservation was required. The reservation, consisting of 416,000 acres, was located in northwestern New Mexico in Rio Arriba County, its northern boundary being the Colorado-New Mexico border. The Continental Divide crosses the eastern part. The drainage pattern includes four major lakes on the eastern slope. The Navajo River is the only waterway draining west as part of the San Juan River system. The Navajo empties into the San Juan River in Archuleta County at Juanita.

Terrain on the reservation is mountainous, cut by deep, narrow canyons and covered with ponderosa pine forests. Because the altitude ranges between 6,000 to 9,000 feet above mean sea level, the winters are rigorous and the growing season short. Average annual rainfall measures between 9 and 14 inches in a good year, not enough to sustain dry land farming.

On these unproductive lands, the government began the implementation of ill-reasoned policies with the survey of the outer perimeter and the allotment of land. In July of 1887 the secretary of the interior received a presidential order to survey only that portion of the reservation with arable land and water resources. The undisclosed motive for this order was presumably to save government money by surveying only land intended for allotment.

More next week on silly government policies that made it difficult for the Jicarilla to adapt from a hunting/gathering society into a functioning segment of the American economy.

Information for this series of articles is taken from "The Jicarilla Apache Tribe, A History, 1846-1970," By Veronica E. Velarde Tiller.


Pagosa Sky Watch

A rare planetary grouping and a mysterious meteor source

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

The following sun and moon data is provided by the United States Naval Observatory.

Sunrise: 7:09 a.m.

Sunset: 4:50 p.m.

Moonrise: 7:29 p.m.

Moonset: 10:39 a.m. Dec. 8.

Moon phase: The moon is waning gibbous with 91 percent of the visible disk illuminated.

A nearly unprecedented clustering of three naked-eye planets will light up the early morning sky Dec. 10, and astronomers don't expect a similar planetary gathering until 2053.

On Dec. 10, about 30 minutes before sunrise Jupiter, Mars and Mercury will appear just above the eastern horizon grouped together inside an area only one degree wide. To better understand the scale of the planetary clustering, your index finger held at arm's length with the night sky as a backdrop covers about half a degree of sky or about the width of the full moon. Thus, if a full moon or an index finger is only half a degree wide, then the planetary clustering will fit inside an area roughly the size of two full moons, or two fingertips held at arm's length.

According to astronomers, the event marks the most visually compact meeting of three naked eye planets since 1925, and the event will not repeat itself for nearly another 50 years. However, the appearance of proximity is just that - appearance. It's not that the planets will actually cluster together, it's our line of sight from Earth relative to the planets that makes them appear close together. For example, during the event, the planets, as always, are quite far from each other and Earth, with Mercury 120 million miles from Earth, Mars 230 million miles away and Jupiter 600 million miles away.

Although Sunday marks the day when the planets appear clustered closest together, skywatchers can observe the trio inch gradually closer throughout the week, with Saturday marking the first day of serious proximity. On Saturday, again, about 30 minutes before sunrise, the trio will hover within an area encompassing about 1.5 degrees, or the width of three full moons. Sunday marks closest proximity, with the planets gathering within a one-degree area. By Monday, the grouping remains strong, with the clustering happening in an area slightly larger than one degree, although the planets will have shifted positions slightly.

With the surrounding peaks, Pagosa Country skywatchers may find it challenging to locate the planets rising in the east before the sun's glare obscures the planetary triad from view. Thus, in order to locate the clustering trio, skywatchers must find an area with unobstructed views of the eastern horizon. Once found, skywatchers should begin scanning for the planets in the east-southeast around 6:30 a.m. By 6:45 a.m., the group should be visible just above the horizon; but by 7:00 a.m., the glow of the rising sun may make observing the planets problematic.

Facing east-southeast, stargazers should look for three points of light arranged in an arrowhead-like shape hovering barely above the horizon. The bright point of light marking the tip of the arrowhead will be facing to the right, and the tip marks Mars, the dimmest planet of the group. At the base of the arrowhead, just one degree to the left and slightly above Mars is tiny Mercury. Mercury is the highest planet of the grouping with Jupiter, one of the brightest objects in the sky, hovering just 0.3 degrees below. By Monday, Mercury will have shifted from a position slightly above Jupiter to slightly below the gas giant planet.

With the potential for the planets to get lost in the rising sun's glare, naked eye viewing of all three planets, particularly dim Mars, may prove problematic. Thus, binoculars or a telescope may prove the most effective viewing tools. As the sun rises, skywatchers viewing with binoculars or a telescope should use extreme caution: viewing the sun through any optical aid not specifically equipped with protective filters could permanently damage the eyes.

While out searching for the planet cluster, stargazers should also watch for brilliant Geminid meteors streaking across the sky. Although the shower won't peak until the night of Dec. 13 and the early morning hours of Dec. 14, the shower is active from Dec. 7 until Dec. 17.

For those postponing observations until the shower's peak on Dec. 13, the Geminids are best viewed between 9 p.m. and morning twilight. For those intent on capturing the shower at its zenith, 2 a.m. is the magic hour, when the shower's radiant is highest in the sky and hourly rates should reach their maximum.

Past observations indicate Geminids streaking to Earth at rates of 100 per hour. And although some say that figure may be optimistic for this year's show - 50 per hour may be more accurate - there should still be plenty of Geminids to make your trip outdoors worth the effort.

With their bright yellow tails and consistent hourly rates, the Geminids remain a favorite of many amateur skywatchers, although for professionals, the Geminids are as mysterious as they are beautiful.

Nearly all meteor showers are caused when Earth passes through the debris trail of a comet. As a comet passes close to the sun on its orbital journey, it sloughs off material that could later provide fodder for a meteor shower. However, observations indicate this is not the case with the Geminids.

The Geminids first appeared in 1862 when astronomers noted an unexpected meteor shower that produced fall rates of roughly 15 shooting stars per hour. With the sudden appearance of a previously unseen and undocumented shower, they immediately began searching for a parent or source comet.

Initial observations proved fruitless, nevertheless, the search for the Geminid source continued, albeit in vain, through the remainder of the 19th and through much of the 20th century, until a major breakthrough came in 1983.

In that year, NASA's Infra-Red Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) spotted an object travelling in the same orbital path as the Geminids. But rather than appearing as a comet, with its signature coma and tail, the object, at several kilometers wide, appeared more like an asteroid. Astronomers named it 3200 Phaethon.

Further observations indicate that 3200 Phaethon whizzes by our planet at a distance of only eight times farther away than the distance between Earth and our moon. Thus, astronomers call 3200 Phaethon a near-Earth object, and its trajectory is considered dangerously close by astronomical standards.

While it appears researchers have discovered the Geminid source, it remains unclear how and if asteroids can behave like comets, such that an asteroid could shed debris, leaving behind future fodder for a meteor shower. Thus, key questions remain. Is 3200 Phaethon truly an asteroid, or is it an extinct comet? Furthermore, are the Geminids caused by dust shed from a comet that has since gone extinct, or are they chips of matter flung from a large, aberrant asteroid that orbits the sun?

To help solve the mystery, NASA, as part of the Deep Impact mission, slammed a probe deep into Comet Temple 1 in July 2005, to learn more about the chemical composition and physical structure of comet nuclei. The data gathered will help researchers determine the differences between comets and asteroids and may help NASA solve the mystery of 3200 Phaethon.



Date High Low PrecipitationType Depth Moisture





































Winter temperatures, but no snow likely

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

Believe it or not, winter is still two weeks away.

According to local weather statistician, Toby Karlquist, the Pagosa Springs area received below-average precipitation during the month of November, but above-average snowfall.

How does that happen? Relatively dry air and cold, winter-like temperatures.

Over three separate days last month, Karlquist recorded a total of 18 inches of powdery snow at his weather station in Pagosa Lakes. Its overall moisture content, however, was only 1.05 inches in a month that typically averages 1.39 inches. November was the first month of the past five with less-than-average precipitation, yet by yesterday, the year-to-date total was 5.6 inches ahead of the annual average.

The most recent storm, which brought 9 inches of snow to Pagosa Lakes and 36 inches to the Wolf Creek Ski Area, arrived Tuesday of last week, and lingered through the following afternoon.

Since then, skies have been clear to partly cloudy, with bright daytime sunshine and a spectacular nighttime moon. In fact, with a blanket of white covering the ground, and the high trajectory typical of a December moon, Tuesday's full moon was the brightest we've seen in 12 months.

Temperatures, meanwhile, were more indicative of winter than late autumn. Over the past seven days, highs gradually climbed from the upper 20s to upper 40s, while lows ranged from seven-below-zero (Sunday) to just 10 above yesterday.

Over the next seven days, the National Weather Service forecast calls for sunny to partly cloudy skies, with little or no precipitation, cool daytime highs and brisk starry nights. Daytime temperatures will gradually fall from tomorrow's predicted high of 46 degrees to around 40 degrees for the remainder of the period. Lows will remain chilly, but above zero, with typical readings hovering in the low teens.

By 6:30 a.m. yesterday, the Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 47 inches of powder and packed powder at its mountain summit, with 43 inches midway. No new snow fell over the previous seven days, and the season total stood at 134 inches.

Under early-season conditions, 100 percent of the area was open, serving 1,600 acres of skiable terrain. Five lifts were in operation, including Magic Carpet for the Wolf Pup Program, and Divide Trail, Kelly Boyce and Bunny Hop were Wednesday's "picks of the hill."

The Alberta Peak Area, Horseshoe Bowl Area, Water Fall Area and Knife Ridge are now open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (4 p.m. in the Water Fall Area), and expert skiers are recommended. The gated portion of the Water Fall Area remains closed.